Why It's Not So Bad to Speak 'Bad English'
3:22 pm
Wed April 23, 2014

On the Bard's Birthday, Who Wrote It: Shakespeare or a Rapper?

It's happened to all of us: just when you're ready to deliver the perfect rebuttal,  last word or final point, your tongue trips up and you slaughter your English.

Don't fret about it, says author Ammon Shea. The man who spent a year reading the Oxford English Dictionary is taking on grammarians and nitpickers alike.

Shea's new book "Bad English: A History of Linguistic Aggravation" (out this June) is an eye-opening look at how language mistakes have become accepted as correct usage.

"Most of the things that we are correcting either used to be totally fine, or they're really much older than we think," Shea says.

For instance, OMG – text shorthand for oh my God – originally dates back to approximately 1911, being first found in a letter to Winston Churchill.

Listen to the interview to hear Texas Standard host David Brown slaughter some English of his own and take a test. Who authored the following lines: Shakespeare or a rapper?

  • "But if you don’t, I'll unsheathe my Excalibur like a noble knight" (Answer)
  • "This is the proper way man should choose ink" (Answer)
  • "Let's beat him before his whore" (Answer)
  • "Welcome ass. Now let's have a catch" (Answer)
  • "I live by the sword; I take my boys everywhere I go" (Answer)