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1. Britons are 10 times more likely to recognize TV phrases than those from Shakespeare 2. TV show phrases are 10 times more recognizable to Britons than Shakespearean ones 3. Britons have a 10-fold greater likelihood of identifying TV show sayings than Shakespearean ones 4. TV quotes are 10 times more familiar to Britons than quotes from Shakespeare 5. The likelihood of Britons recognizing TV show phrases over Shakespearean ones is 10 times greater 6. Britons are more apt to recognize TV show sayings by a factor of 10 compared to Shakespeare’s 7. Shakespearean phrases are 10 times less recognizable to Britons than those from TV shows 8. There is a 10-fold gap in Britons’ ability to spot phrases from TV shows versus Shakespeare 9. TV show expressions are 10 times more easily recognizable to Britons than Shakespearean ones 10. Britons possess a 10 times higher probability of recognizing TV show quotes than those from Shakespeare.


Don’t mention the bard! British people recognize sentences from TV shows ten times more often than from Shakespeare

  • A survey asked 1,500 adults if they knew the origins of 12 common sayings
  • Only six percent knew that “be-all and end-all” came from the bard’s work
  • The new research comes next weekend for Shakespeare’s birthday

He is famous all over the world for the plays that brought hundreds of words and sentences into the everyday English language.

But it seems that William Shakespeare is not as well known as he once was.

Britons today recognize ten times more well-known phrases from television programs than those from the Bard’s works.

Research ahead of Shakespeare’s birthday next weekend shows that only three percent know that the writer is behind statements such as “wild goose chase” and “cruel to be kind.”

However, it is much more likely that we know phrases from Fawlty Towers, Friends, Game Of Thrones, Star Trek – and even the Bible. Millennials were the worst at recognizing Shakespeare, compared to Generation X or Baby Boomers.

Britons today are ten times more likely to recognize familiar phrases from television shows such as Friends (pictured) than those from the bard’s works

In the Deltapoll survey for The Mail on Sunday, 1,500 adults were asked if they knew the origin of 12 commonly used sayings – half of them from Shakespeare – and to name that source. Although ‘be-all and end-all’ is part of everyday parlance, only six per cent of Britons knew it came from the world’s most famous playwright. The idiom, in Macbeth, was the most famous of the bard’s six sayings.

For others — “brave new world,” “wild goose chase,” “in my heart of hearts,” and “cruel to be kind” — it fell to just three percent.

In contrast, 30 percent knew that “don’t mention the war” came from Fawlty Towers. Similarly, 28 percent knew “we were on vacation” is from Friends, and another 26 percent knew “winter is coming” is from Game Of Thrones.

The only one to register under Shakespeare was ‘when in Rome, do as the Romans do’, attributed to a 4th century saint.

To celebrate Shakespeare’s birthday — and get more kids with the bard — Apple is releasing audiobooks for young people. Costing £1.99 each, they are narrated by actresses including Bridgerton’s Charithra Chandran and Ghosts’ Lolly Adefope.

The Mail On Sunday's investigation comes ahead of Shakespeare's birthday (pictured) next week.

The Mail On Sunday’s investigation comes ahead of Shakespeare’s birthday (pictured) next week.

Professor Michael Dobson, director of the Shakespeare Institute and professor of Shakespearean studies at the University of Birmingham, said: ‘After four centuries of continuous performance, enjoyment, study and quotation, Shakespeare’s words and phrases have inevitably become part of the unattributed everyday currency of English. language. The sad thing about this research is that it reveals the extent of general ignorance of anything written before about 1900.’

This year marks 400 years since the First Folio, the first collection of Shakespeare’s plays, was published seven years after his death.

Dr. Chris Laoutaris, Senior Lecturer in Shakespeare at the University of Birmingham and author of books on Shakespeare, said: ‘Without Shakespeare and the First Folio, many of the well-known expressions that define the structure of the English language would not exist or would not have become. so embedded in our lexical consciousness, like: change of sea, brave new world, with it hangs a story, in one fell swoop, the most important and the end, breaking the ice, what’s done is done, neither rhyme nor reason, too much of the good and it is Greek to me.’

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