Any Shakespeare Scholars?

"Hear the meaning within the word."

This quote is widely attributed to William Shakespeare on the internet. I can’t prove he didn’t write it, but I can’t track down any play, poem, or other correspondence with that sentence.

Pray gentles, canst thou tell me from whence cometh the line?

I wouldn’t claim to be a Shakespeare scholar, but I don’t believe that it’s by Shakespeare. I couldn’t find it in a concordance his words, and it doesn’t sound late 16th or early 17th century English to me.

I concur. Wherever it’s from, it’s not Shakespeare, although it seems to have been attributed to him as far back as 2001, if Google cache can be trusted.

Thank you. I just started noticing it. I’m fairly certain it didn’t originate with WS or any of his contemporaries.

The way these things self-perpetuate on the internet, I suppose that in ten years there will be an exponential increase in the number of hits attributing it to Shakespeare.

Agreed; it could be paraphrased, I guess, but at that time ‘hear’ was more often used with ‘thee’ or ‘ye.’

Also, I was once a Shakespeare scholar, writing a PhD thesis about the use of Shakespeare’s most famous lines in popular culture; I wouldn’t be able to place every line from every Shakespeare play, but I certainly would be able to place the famous ones and most of the aphorisms, and I can’t place this one. It’s a good line, though.

I couldn’t find it in my edition of Bartlett’s, which has page upon page of Shakespeare.

It sounds good, but there’s an online Shakespeare concordance and neither “hear the meaning” nor “within the word” show up as individual phrases or together in the canon.

“Hear the meaning within the word” would also be sloppier meter than he usually has, unless it was prose – there’s two soft syllables next to each other since “meaning within” would be MEANing withIN and mostly he doesn’t do that if he can help it. It happens sometimes, but that might be another reason it sounds subtly wrong.

Oh, and whenever you need one (and I do all the time) there is a nice automated Shakespeare concordance here: Concordance of Shakespeare's complete worksConcordance of Shakespeare's complete worksConcordance of Shakespeare's complete worksConcordance of Shakespeare's complete works :|: Open Source Shakespeare                

It’s one of those things you knew someone would put online somewhere, you just never knew it happened already. :stuck_out_tongue: Open Source Shakespeare is, for me, indispensable.

This site gives a longer version: “Hear the meaning within the word, Never lose a chance of saying a kind word you can, if you think you can.” [[Warning: don’t open unless you like pink.]] This is definitely not Shakespeare. Shakespeare wrote plenty of prose, usually in dialogue between characters of lower social status or clowns, but he didn’t write for Hallmark.

The first thing we do, let’s kill all the glurgers.

I’m pretty sure it’s the Earl of Oxford, Edward de Vere.

I wasn’t going to say before getting the longer version of the “quote”, but that’s definitely not 16/17th century English. I can’t give you a lock-solid reason as to why, but I’ve read enough of it in fiction and non-fiction to know that Englishmen of that era simply didn’t write or talk that way.

And, of course, the segment is grammatically a mess…“never lose a chance of saying a kind word you can”??? Eh?

“Never lose a chance of saying a kind word” is a quote from Thackeray’s Vanity Fair – Chapter 19 to be precise.

Well, to be fair, Shakespeare DID write glurge on occasion, it’s just that he put it all in the mouths of characters like Polonius :slight_smile: (Actually, I can usually tell which of my students were raised on Chicken Soup for the Soul: they’re the ones who think Polonius is amazingly smart and insightful and the whole tragedy would have been prevented if only the younger generation had listened to him!)