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.
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.
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.
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 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?
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 (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!)