Wm. Shakespeare's Five and Twenty Random Things Abovt Me

Emily sez, "There is this meme traveling around Facebook where people write a list of 25 things about them. My friend Mike McPhaden took this list to a whole new level. He made a list called 'Wm. Shakespeare's Five and Twenty Random Things Abovt Me' written entirely in Old English with a modern twist and is fricken genius."
1 Sometimes I Feele so trapp’d by iambic pentameter... Does that make me a Freake?

2 I haue been Knowne to cry at Bear-baiting.

3 I am not uery ticklish. I am Not. So prithee, do not euen try. Waste. Of. Time.

4 I cannot keep Lice, and know not why.

5 Sometimes I thinke plays are all Talke, Talke Talke, and wish for a cart-chase scene. I tried one in The Merry Wives, but it looked like Shitte, so I cut it. The men playing the horses were so Pissed at me.

Wm. Shakespeare's Five and Twenty Random Things Abovt Me (Thanks, Emily!)


  1. Nice touch with the Abovt in the title Cory.

    The old/middle English spellings is the icing on this tasty cake……

  2. Just a quick note: Shakespeare did not write in Old or Middle English. He wrote in English – 16th century English, but English. For Old English, check out a copy of Beowulf.

  3. I’ll bite the pedant bullet here:

    Shakespeare = early Modern English. His speech and writing is not really more different from modern English than many dialects of modern English are from one another. In fact, Shakespeare himself is credited for inventing many of the words and constructions that characterize modern English. It’s just old-fashioned Modern English.

    Chaucer = Middle English. A modern reader can read it with some difficulty and a good Oxford English Dictionary, but it can be very difficult.

    Sir Gawain = An even older-sounding dialect of Middle English. Very difficult to read in the original without training in the language.

    Beowulf = Old English. It’s essentially a foreign language–it doesn’t even use the same alphabet.

    It matters because calling Shakespeare “Old English” turns people off to his works, when really, they’re a lot more accessible than folks imagine.

    (That said–hilarious.)

  4. @ #3 posted by justi121883

    I thank you sir, as do my Age of Shakespeare and Restoration Comedy professors from college.

  5. And of course V and U were reversed in Ye Olde Waffle Shoppe Englishe, as well as random, patternless capitalizations.

  6. Those 25 random things seem too good to be by Shakespeare. Are you sure Francis Bacon didn’t really write them?

  7. I was just reading about the word “Ye” as in Ye Olde Thrifft Shoppe, and it’s interesting because it should be pronounced as “the”

    “th” as a vocal sound had no letters to represent, so they used a Celtic(?) symbol, which later was found to resemble a Y. Also, yes Shakespeare invented many words we commonly use today. Like webcam.

  8. The Y-shaped thing in “Ye Olde” was a variant on the letter ‘edh’ – Ð or ð. I don’t think that a small ð looks particularly Y-shaped, but Norman printers did. Moreover, it was a misspelling; ‘the’ was usually spelt with a ‘thorn’ – Þ or þ (its current pronunciation with a soft ‘th’ came later), and those look even less Y-shaped. A lot of Saxon scribes tended to use thorn and edh interchangeably, unlike the Icelanders, who retain both letters to this day.

    The English of _Sir GaÆ¿aine and þe Grene Knyȝt (Sir Gawain and the Green Knight) is about as late as non-Latin letters appeared. At that point, there were four letters, ‘wynn’, ‘yogh’, ‘thorn’ and ‘edh’, that didn’t exist in the Roman alphabet. U and V were not distinct and used interchangeably. W was not yet invented. K and Y had been borrowed from Greek, but were in common use in Vulgar Latin.

  9. Oh yes, and the random, patternless Capitalizations were neither random nor patternless. It was simply the done Thing to capitalise all Nouns, and not just the first Words of Sentences. German still follows that Convention.

    A later convention was to capitalize the nouns that referred to Living Things, and often the adjectives that modified them, so that one would have a Young Boy and his Black Dog floating down a lazy river on a makeshift raft.

    Both conventions were still in use until the Eighteenth Century.

  10. As I understand, the “Y” was used because early movable type sets were imported and didn’t include eth and thorn.

  11. “U and V were not distinct and used interchangeably. W was not yet invented.”

    Perhaps this explains why in English it’s called a “double U” and in french its a “doubleve”, even though they both make sounds similar to a “V”.

  12. For some reason, in German, u is pronounced ‘ooh,’ v is pronounced ‘fow’ and w is pronounced ‘vay’.

  13. What fun to read my fellow language lovers posting! #10, #12 and #19– A note re: use of “ye” as an article — Y is a close substitute for thorn as it appeared in practice in many anglo-saxon manuscripts — thorn was a rune and composed of straight lines, sort of a vertical line with a little triangle attached on the right side (named thorn because of how it looked in profile). So the character Y actually did look a lot like thorn — for an example see the ‘theod’ on the first page of Beowulf in the original manuscript. Then check that whole page and you’ll see many examples of thorn, which most often look more like a Y than the character we use for thorn now — might also be because the Insular miniscule script used in most Anglo-Saxon manuscripts we have was kind of angular rather than round. Again, a pleasure to read everyone’s comments on this thread!

  14. I’d have been impressed if it was actually written in Old English as opposed to modern english with quasi-archaic spelling.

  15. Only in BoingBoing comments could I possibly expect to see a reference to the Great Vowel Shift.

    My old linguistics professor would be so proud.

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