Today we are all Shakespeare!

The world celebrates today one of the greatest names in world literature and, simultaneously, English Language Day, celebrated by the United Nations. In reality, it is almost impossible to separate the English language from arguably its most prominent speaker: William Shakespeare. Indeed, the date chosen by the UN to celebrate this international day of “anglophonia” (English language) is not exactly innocent, as it is the date of birth and death of the poet, playwright, and even English actor, born in Stratford-upon-Avon in 1564.

Who hasn’t read (or at least seen film adaptations) of Shakespeare, such as “Romeo and Juliet”, “Hamlet”, “Othello”, “Macbeth”, “The Merchant of Venice”, or “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”? In total, the (alleged) greatest playwright in history and designated “National Poet of England” is attributed with 39 plays, 154 sonnets, two narrative poems, and several other works.

But today, although the connection to William Shakespeare is undeniable, the greatest emphasis is on English, which is the most spoken language worldwide and unanimously considered the most important “linguistic tool”. In reality, the English language is only the third language in terms of native speakers (340 million people), surpassed by Mandarin (with over 1.3 billion speakers) and Spanish (over 400 million), and closely followed by Portuguese (with nearly 300 million). But altogether, more than 1.5 billion people use English in their daily communications.

Whether we like it or not, English affects our lives, even if it does not do so professionally, but no one can escape its impact, whether in literature, music, television and cinema, or social media. Indeed, it makes perfect sense to appropriate here what is almost certainly the most famous phrase written by William Shakespeare and declaimed by Hamlet in the eponymous play by the English playwright: To be or not to be, that is the question. Which is to say: speaking or not speaking English can be decisive.


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