5 myths about Shakespeare’s contribution to modern English

Utilising powerful computer analyses, researchers bust five myths around Shakespeare’s impact on the English language, most of which have been largely overstated.

Shakespeare’s language is widely considered to represent the pinnacle of English. But that status is underpinned by multiple myths – ideas about language that have departed from reality (or what is even plausible). Those myths send us down rabbit holes and make us lose sight of what is truly impressive about Shakespeare – what he did with his words.

The Encyclopedia of Shakespeare’s Language project at Lancaster University, deploying large-scale computer analyses, has been transforming what we know about Shakespeare’s language. Here, incorporating some of its findings, we revisit five things that you probably thought you knew about Shakespeare but are actually untrue.

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