Why Shakespeare Could Never Have Been French

Shakespeare sounds a certain way. Why? And why could it only work in English? • Written with Gretchen McCulloch of Lingthusiasm! Her podcast has an episode about how translators approach texts: lingthusiasm.com/post/6320866...

Gretchen's book BECAUSE INTERNET, all about the evolution of internet language, is available:
🇺🇸 US: amzn.to/30tLpjT
🇨🇦 CA: amzn.to/2JsTYWH
🇬🇧 UK: amzn.to/31K8eRD

(Those are affiliate links that give a commission to me or Gretchen, depending on country!)

Audio mix by Graham Haerther: haerther.net

I'm at tomscott.com
on Twitter at tomscott
on Facebook at tomscott
and on Instagram as tomscottgo

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  • Apologies to French folks; this was tough!

    Tom ScottTom Scott3 månader sedan
    • Pas de problèmes vieux

      JaggerJagger20 dagar sedan
    • 😢

      Savage van wizardwitchSavage van wizardwitch20 dagar sedan
    • No apologies needed ! I'm very grateful to have learned about english, but also french (quite a feat since I'm french). I never realized how important the accent was on the rhythm of poesy since it does not exist in french, so from now I'll be more equipped to listen to english poetry.

      mavaxmavax22 dagar sedan
    • Baguette

      AviralAviralMånad sedan
    • Connard 😂

      Gaëtan ROLLETGaëtan ROLLETMånad sedan
  • You are a legend. Not for researching this and writing this brilliant script, but for narrating this whole thing in a single shot. Wow

    Johny JoyJohny JoyDag sedan
  • “Stress isn’t normally something you have during writing” College student:( ͠° ͟ʖ ͡°)

    Random ÑēssRandom Ñēss4 dagar sedan
  • The alexandrine explanation being an alexandrine is just perfect.

    WolfeurWolfeur9 dagar sedan
  • I just realised your accent (after watching 1 other video). Are you from the northern UK?

    Rigin LoraeRigin Lorae9 dagar sedan
  • *leaves to watch videos of french ppl speaking english* "oh my god he's right"

    Local Tavern's Lute PlayerLocal Tavern's Lute Player13 dagar sedan
  • There once was a Scot named McAmeter With a tool of prodigious diameter. It was not the size That cause such surprise; 'Twas his rhythm -- iambic pentameter.

    TheMrinalBanerjeeTheMrinalBanerjee13 dagar sedan
  • Better said that my English teacher of 2 years

    Mr MycoticMr Mycotic16 dagar sedan
  • take that france

    When theWhen the16 dagar sedan
  • 4:49 You forgot to put the description on screen

    Mike MikelMike Mikel18 dagar sedan
  • Explained iambic pntameter better than 10th grade English teacher for the whole poetry unit

    Dark RisingDark Rising19 dagar sedan
  • You've grown old mate. Happens to the best of us

    BM NgatiaBM Ngatia19 dagar sedan
  • I love watching these as I take massive groggy dumps

    JaggerJagger20 dagar sedan
  • sending this to my English teacher

    Bonzo Dimdu3Bonzo Dimdu320 dagar sedan
  • the lexical stress tag almost scared me thinking that it was a swan

    kaviru Pererakaviru Perera22 dagar sedan
  • I want that. Not you. Me. I want it. I want that. I don't need it, I just really want it. I want that. I will settle for nothing else.

    shotbot_over8000shotbot_over800022 dagar sedan
  • tom's meta greenscreen jokes are giving me captain D's

    Texas RedTexas Red22 dagar sedan
  • Brilliant.

    MrLargePigMrLargePig22 dagar sedan
  • I like the difference between permit and permit. "I can't perMit you to park here without a Permit"

    Bob FranklinBob Franklin22 dagar sedan
  • The whole time he's talking, I'm watching the Swans move out of sight and hearing the Jaws theme in my head. 🦈

    wyldstonerwyldstoner22 dagar sedan
  • I did not need this video, but it's just so interesting! You don't really think about it in your daily life, but when you see it, it makes so much sense.

    J K.J K.23 dagar sedan
  • This common saying about the stress being on the last syllable by default in french language is kinda wrong, but you totally got the point. Latin languages stress syllable according to etymological roots. Because most ancient inflections are no longer written or pronounced, french words and sentences end on a stressed syllable very often. However that is definitely not a rule. It may still fall on the penultimate syllable, as it is for most Spanish or Italian words, or even elsewhere in some occasions. Long words may also contain more than one slightly stressed syllables. It actually depends on the meaning of those syllables. It sounds true if one compares french language with other existing languages, but not if we compare it with a theorical stressless language. Well... this wrong saying about french prononciation have being said so much that, sadly, it is now becoming true (!). That's why some stupid frenchies now struggle to find the right rhythm in other latin languages despite the words and grammar being very similar, and can't even pronounce their own language properly. Fun fact is the French language was born on Great Britain territory.

    Marc JolyMarc Joly24 dagar sedan
  • What, you egg?

    Andrew JacksonAndrew Jackson24 dagar sedan
  • fascinating

    Max OaklandMax Oakland24 dagar sedan
  • We call lexical stress the klemtoon in the netherlands

    Mic HaismaMic Haisma25 dagar sedan
  • But could Racine or Moliere have been British?

    heyoka Ikaggenheyoka Ikaggen25 dagar sedan
  • Depending on which word you stress, this sentence means completely different things I didn’t say we should kill him

    Malu PMalu P26 dagar sedan
  • Fünfhiebiger Jambus, is lalr

    MrVipitisMrVipitis27 dagar sedan
  • I have to notice myself to improve my English. Good video, THANKS!

    Ralph SchumacherRalph Schumacher27 dagar sedan
  • one of my favorite Language Files videos to date. keep up the amazing work you do, Tom, we appreciate you even more than you know 💜

    Zach BrownZach Brown27 dagar sedan
  • "Je suis, mon cher ami, très heureux de te voir."

    Bug FighterBug Fighter27 dagar sedan
  • 3:00 did anyone else notice the french flag on toms sweater

    Hawt🥵Hawt🥵27 dagar sedan
  • Well, I don't see why French couldn't have iambic pentameter. It is still technically possible, despite what you asserted. Yes, it might sound weird, but sometimes that's part of the fun.

    Garth VaderGarth Vader28 dagar sedan
  • What's surprising about aggressive swans? Have you ever met a swan before?

    Garth VaderGarth Vader28 dagar sedan
  • you take me for a joke you smoking crack

    SHIFTKICKSHIFTKICK28 dagar sedan
  • saving this video for the possibility i get into an argument where somebody thinks Shakespeare is french

    ATmel91ATmel9128 dagar sedan
  • I thought it said tuck

    Attack HelicopterAttack Helicopter28 dagar sedan
  • the-way you-talk ab-out imambic pentameters does-not dis'point

    Bad_ScriptBad_Script28 dagar sedan
  • Incredible theatre text in french is Cyrano de Bergerac. Best play ever if you ask me. To clarify, im argentinian, fluent in spanish english and french. YES, I read Shakespeare, I DO LOVE IT, best theatre writer ever. But if I have to pick ONE SINGLE PLAY, it would be Cyrano de Bergerac.

    WOODA Reclaimed WoodWOODA Reclaimed Wood28 dagar sedan
  • you didnt got it. You stressed syllable in the "sy".

    WOODA Reclaimed WoodWOODA Reclaimed Wood28 dagar sedan
  • Im surprised that you are surprised by agressiveness of swans, swans are agressive asshloes. Obviously you never lived close to swans, I had, THEY ARE AGRESSIVE ASSHOLES.

    WOODA Reclaimed WoodWOODA Reclaimed Wood28 dagar sedan
  • The gaul of those uppity swans ;)

    PhrontDoorPhrontDoor29 dagar sedan
  • Surprisingly Aggressive Swans is a great band name

    Ian ColeIan Cole29 dagar sedan
  • The whole thing sounded like a poem to me

    Nishad DashNishad DashMånad sedan
  • It's just a love story with silly words and annoying monologues. I'm sure a French person can do that.

    Fw WryhFw WryhMånad sedan
  • 3:03 this was cool

    Rem_best_girl (•=•)Rem_best_girl (•=•)Månad sedan
  • I think the reason I started watching your videos is because of your accent and your voice

    Rem_best_girl (•=•)Rem_best_girl (•=•)Månad sedan
  • "The feeling and sound of a limerick, relies on the lexical stress" Very correct, my utmost respect But I wish you were wearing a dress

    heddecatamerheddecatamerMånad sedan
  • That's an outrageously specific title, I'm invested

    heddecatamerheddecatamerMånad sedan
  • Aggressive swans? Ever heard of Canadian geese?

    RomanRomanMånad sedan
  • Welsh is last syllable stress too

    Peter NichollsPeter NichollsMånad sedan
  • Okay as a french guy, I now see that when I speak English I still only stress my last syllables Though this rule doesn't necessarily apply to every french speaker, swiss for exemple don't stress the last syllables but the one before that

    NifnixNifnixMånad sedan
  • Why William Shakespeare couldn’t of been french Me an 3 am: well well well let’s find out then

    keytron1keytron1Månad sedan
  • 3:02 was my most favourite sentence

    走氣汽水走氣汽水Månad sedan
  • really love how you visualized stress in language here!

    NicolleNicolleMånad sedan
  • There's no such thing as surprisingly aggressive swans. All swans, in my experience, are very aggressive. Nothing surprising about it.

    Ben TothBen TothMånad sedan
  • 3:29 Whoa. That's cool. Didn't realize sentences could have such rhythm without rhymes. I'm not big on poetic rhymes. Maybe I should read some Shakespeare. P.S. One thing I'd love to hear before I die, is a rap with flow but no rhymes. But I digress.

    ELFanaticELFanaticMånad sedan
  • Ha so Russian is simmilar to English after all!

    Максим КузьминыхМаксим КузьминыхMånad sedan
  • The 👋 feeling and 👋 sound of the 👋 limerick 👋 Relies 👋 on the 👋 lexical 👋 stress.

    Check the CircuitCheck the CircuitMånad sedan
  • No 1: remembered in a positive light

    the slam jamfrinciscothe slam jamfrinciscoMånad sedan
  • I was really hoping you were going to do an imitation of a Quebecer (me) speaking in english. Now that would have been hilariously offensive

    JustinJustinMånad sedan
  • An interesting way to insult french people

    PILOOTPILOOTMånad sedan
  • "like English can break its own rules sometimes" yes, sometimes *laughs in English is a f+cking nightmare*

    Foolish PotatoesFoolish PotatoesMånad sedan
  • "Surprisingly aggressive swans." Somebody doesn't live around swans, that's not surprising at all.

    James DeRivenJames DeRivenMånad sedan
  • Do other Germanic languages use iambic pentameter?

    Matthew GaddieMatthew GaddieMånad sedan
    • It is possible, though a but more difficult since English has morse monosyllabic words than most other Germanic languages

      Sir JaojaoSir JaojaoMånad sedan
  • As a french, it was very interesting to watch. Thank you Tom

    Shift FredShift FredMånad sedan
  • SylAAble?

    Larry CLarry CMånad sedan
  • You simultaneously look 97 and 13

    Jean XzaJean XzaMånad sedan
  • That is truly amazing what you've done here, 12 years of school and I've never understood iambic pentameter, or really a limerick, but what a 5 min video explained clearly and concisely. I understand.

    Vincent GibbonsVincent GibbonsMånad sedan
  • TLDW: Shakespeare isnt french his an alien!

    Ta Hun KwaiTa Hun KwaiMånad sedan
  • The captions tho

    Landon BolthouseLandon BolthouseMånad sedan
  • I can’t be the only one who misread “tuck” in the thumbnail..

    lolblitz gaminglolblitz gamingMånad sedan
  • Uhh... Non of these examples work in me accent.

    Tuxified ArtTuxified ArtMånad sedan
  • No wonder english is so bad. Because they overcomplicate it

    Jerry HuangJerry HuangMånad sedan
  • yoo thats still a green screen🤔

    mr.NoPromr.NoProMånad sedan
  • Now do why Alexander the great could never be slavic 🇲🇰🇬🇷

    mustard roshimustard roshiMånad sedan
  • Brilliantly insightful content, love it 😍

    WilliamPhillippeWilliamPhillippeMånad sedan
  • Oh no you can't leave your house you might infect some geese with a weak virus that only hurts people with pre existing conditions

    mlg mcdonalds landmlg mcdonalds landMånad sedan
  • Thanks Tom for this moving videos. Your demonstration of the unicity of English is a powerful reminder of the fundamental value of all languages. Similarly that the poetry of Shakespeare cannot be perfectly expressed in French, so does with all human civilization through only the English language. A bon entendeur, salut! 😉

    Christian MartelChristian MartelMånad sedan
  • You needed to use the metric of a musical measure to really get this point across, not a geometric grid.

    barged inbarged inMånad sedan
  • Mask Enforcement Swans Service. A conspiracy theory that British history makes a believable MESS.

    Mr NobodyMr NobodyMånad sedan
  • And here I thought you were going to debunk some conspiracy theory :-)

    zapfanzapfanzapfanzapfanMånad sedan
  • Suggestion: why English hates X sound (i mean IPA x, sometimes ch, sometimes kh and sometimes h)

    NeoAquaNeoAquaMånad sedan
  • You have a way of taking topics that I'd normally find rather boring and making them surprisingly interesting.

    VinnyCThatWhoIBeVinnyCThatWhoIBeMånad sedan
  • big up stratford sheeesh

    Charlie C.Charlie C.Månad sedan
  • Bold of you to assume that I assume Shakespeare was French

    Jordan ThomasJordan ThomasMånad sedan
  • Oh I thought There once was a ship that put to sea the name of the ship was the billy O tea

    crash the gaming mastercrash the gaming masterMånad sedan
  • dank

    • Mems

      Fenriz NobileFenriz NobileMånad sedan
  • I went into this not understanding Iambic Pentameter. I left not understanding Iambic Pentameter.

    BunkerFoxBunkerFoxMånad sedan
  • 'This is difficult, so there are going to be jump cuts.' I didn't notice one.

    Tre FlipTre FlipMånad sedan
  • "sylLABE" Yes, it sounds about right!

    MeneGRMeneGRMånad sedan
  • You’ve not read Shakespeare until you’ve read it in the original Klingon.

    GranbergGranbergMånad sedan
  • oh ..so this why I didn't understand Shakespeare ,I read it translated to my native language.

    Yasser ElhanafyYasser ElhanafyMånad sedan
  • Very interesting

    Robot PieRobot PieMånad sedan
  • Where does the name "Gretchen" come from? Sounds like a german name like Greta !

    Frank EFrank EMånad sedan
  • My trilingual friend is calling your bluff.

    Public PublicPublic PublicMånad sedan
  • The FEELing and sound OF a limERic relIES on the LEXical STRESS

    Roony QRoony QMånad sedan
  • Great vid geez

    MaziMaxMaziMaxMånad sedan
  • I still prefer Hamlet in the original Klingon.

    Derrick BonsellDerrick BonsellMånad sedan
  • You blew my bilingual brain to pieces when stressing the last syllable in english, it really *does* sound french

    BaalFridgeBaalFridgeMånad sedan