It’s Shakespeare birthday, and also “Talk Like Shakespeare Day.” In the spirit of the day, we’ve put together a simple 5-step guide to talking like Shakespeare himself.
1. Know Your Iambic Pentameter
A good place to start on your quest to sound like Shakespeare is with iambic pentameter. This unstressed-stressed pattern totals ten syllables per line and will automatically up your Shakespearean language game.
— Sonnet 18
— Twelfth Night: Act 1, Scene 1
2. Buff Up on Those Classical and Biblical Allusions
Shakespeare was well-versed (no pun-intended) in both his classical and biblical allusions. Throwing in a couple allusions here and there will undoubtedly impress your friends and family. Try referencing oddly specific places, Greek gods, and biblical stories. Bonus points if a single sentence contains more than one allusion.
— Shakespeare, Henry the Sixth Part 3, Act 3 Scene 3
3. Use Shakespearean Contractions
Forget the days of using proper contractions, prepositions, and words. Instead, randomly join together various words to sound like a true Renaissance raconteur. ‘Tis an easy way ‘t mimic Shakespeare and keep your iambic flow going.
Here are some examples from the man himself:
- ’Tis (it is)
- O (oh)
- Wi’ (with)
- Ha’ (have)
- I’ (in)
- ‘Tween (between)
- Ne’er (never)
- O’er (over)
4. Speak in Innuendo
These can be as subtle (or not subtle) as you desire. Whether you’re talking at the office or in front of the children at home, employing some of Shakespeare’s innuendos can make just about any environment appropriate for salacious conversations. Just don’t blame us for the outcome.
— The Taming of the Shrew: Act 2, Scene 1
— Hamlet: Act 3, Scene 2
5. Use Rhyming Couplets
Blank verse aside, Shakespeare also experimented with a rhyming couplet or two in his time. His better known examples often involve the love-stricken Romeo and Juliet, but don’t let that stop you from rhyming in any situation. Though spontaneous rhyming might worry your friends, it’s ultimately up to you when it ends.
— Romeo and Juliet: Act 1, Scene 5
— Romeo and Juliet: Act 2, Scene 2
— Othello: Act 1, Scene 3
Are there any other tips you can think of? Leave them in the comments below!