You know the person…the type of person who tries to act so sophisticated, like they know everything. They’re the people who say “That’s sooo bourgeois.” You know, like this…
And yet, all of us secretly enjoy when we’re the overly smart ones. When we can stop someone and say, “Actually, you’re wrong…” with our noses in the air (okay, let’s not put our noses in the air). So, if you’ve always desired this kind of moment, here’s a great piece of trivia to flaunt in someone’s face.
SHAKESPEARE IS NOT OLD ENGLISH. And if Shakespeare is not Old English, then Dickens and Austen most certainly don’t fit in that category. I have heard many times how somebody was turned off because they didn’t realize the book was written in Old English (actually, I saw this on a book blog recently…gasp!). So if you hear someone say that, prick your ears up because they’re probably wrong.
The most important piece of Old English literature is Beowulf, our oldest manuscript being from around 1000 CE (the story itself probably far older). Old English is basically unreadable to English speakers today.
Not only is Old English unrecognizable, even Middle English (e.g. The Canterbury Tales written in the late 14th century) is extremely difficult for most modern readers.
Shakespeare was actually writing in early modern English while authors such as Jane Austen and Charles Dickens were writing in late modern English.
So there you go! Go sound smart with your friends…
And when you have a chance, check out this awesome interactive resource put out by the BBC (HERE).