Thu, Mar 23, 2017 | updated 05:49 AM IST

Many of Shakespeare- famed phrases were actually not his: Study

Updated: Sep 08, 2016 15:31 IST

London [UK], Sept. 8 (ANI): Did you have any idea that Shakespearean phrase like "it's all Greek to me" from Julius Ceaser was actually not given by William Shakespeare?

A leading scholar David McInnis recently claimed that Shakespeare did not come up with most of the famous phrases in his plays but was credited with them because of a fault with the Oxford English dictionary, reports the Daily Mail.

Dr David McInnis said that internet searches reveal usage of many such phrases before the play was written.

McInnis, a lecturer in Shakespeare Studies in Australia, argued that it is actually the Oxford English Dictionary (OED) that has attributed the phrases to Shakespeare, but it is 'biased'.

He explained how the OED contains quotations when defining words and when looking for these, it 'preferred literary examples, and famous ones at that.'

"The Complete Works of Shakespeare was frequently raided for early examples of word use, even though words or phrases might have been used earlier, by less famous or less literary people," he wrote in the University of Melbourne magazine.

As a result more than 33,000 Shakespeare quotations have been found in the OED, including 1,500 listed as the first time a word was used, and 7,500 examples of it being the first evidence of usage.

"A wild goose chase," is credited as first appearing in 'Romeo and Juliet' by the OED, but it had appeared at least six times in English poet Gervase Markham's book about horsemanship a few years earlier in 1593.

"Eaten out of house and home" is thought to first appear in 'Henry IV' part two, written in the 1590s, but examples from as early as 1578 have been found.

He did still invent most of his famous quotations, including "to make an ass of oneself," however, he would have risked alienating his audience if he had invented too many phrases and words.

"His audiences had to understand at least the gist of what he meant, so his words were mostly in circulation already or were logical combinations of pre-existing concepts," wrote McInnis.

"He invented some; more usually he came up with the most memorable combinations or uses; and frequently we can find earlier uses that the Oxford English Dictionary simply hasn't cited yet," he added.(ANI)

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