River Wissey Lovell Fuller


January 2005

Our Editor highlights the debt we owe to Shakespeare for our modern English

If you cannot understand what I say and declare 'it's all Greek to me' you are quoting Shakespeare.

If you claim to be "more sinned against than sinning", if you recall 'your salad days', if you act 'more in sorrow than in anger', if your wish is 'father to the thought', if your lost property 'vanished into thin air', you are quoting Shakespeare.

If you have ever 'refused to budge an inch', or suffered from 'green-eyed jealousy', if you have ever 'played fast and loose', if you have ever been 'tongue-tied', 'a tower of strength', 'hoodwinked' or 'in a pickle', if you have ever

'knitted your brows', made 'a virtue of necessity', insisted on 'fair play', slept 'not a wink', stood 'on ceremony', danced 'on attendance', laughed yourself 'into stitches' had 'short shrift', 'cold comfort', or 'too much of a good thing', if you have 'seen better days' or lived 'in a fool's paradise' - why, 'be that as it may', 'the more fool you', for 'it is a foregone conclusion' that you are (as 'good luck would have it') quoting Shakespeare.

If you think 'it is early days' and clear out 'bag and baggage', if you think 'it is high time', and 'that is the long and short of it', if you believe 'the game is up' and that 'truth will out' even if it involves 'your own flesh and blood', if you 'lie low till the crack of doom' because you suspect 'foul play', if you have 'your teeth set on edge'('at one fell swoop') 'without rhyme or reason' then - 'to give the devil his due' - 'if truth were known' (for surely you have 'a tongue in your head') you are quoting Shakespeare.

Even if you bid me 'good riddance' and 'send me packing', if you wish 'I was dead as a door nail', if you think I am an 'eyesore', a 'laughing stock', the 'devil incarnate', a 'stony-hearted villain', 'bloody-minded', or a 'blinking idiot' then - 'By Jove!', 'O Lord!', 'Tut tut!' 'For goodness sake!' 'What the dickens!' 'But me no buts! '- 'it is all one to me', for you are quoting Shakespeare.

Bernard Levin from his 'The Story of English'

Ray Thompson

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