English has Changed

I have been attempting to understand English grammar by poking about in some grammar books. One of the things that came up was this quote from Shakespeare’s Macbeth:

Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow

Creeps in this petty pace from day to day

To the last syllable of recorded time,

And all our yesterdays have lighted fools

The way to dusty death.

It gave me shivers when my mom read it aloud to me. His very long sentence takes us on a trip through time. It conveys an idea using several other ideas. By using the word tomorrow three times the word no longer means tomorrow anymore it conveys how, each day we look towards tomorrow but can only see it now, and how we look back on the past and what we thought tomorrow was going to be like. In fact those three repetitions convey an awful lot but that is not the end of the sentence or the idea, he goes on to talk about how there will be an infinite number of days in the future and we will continue living them as we do today. Another complex idea that is only expanded upon in the next line. When he refers to recorded time he throws the reader back in history and by reminding us of the last syllable of a word he keeps our mind on the idea of endings at the same time. But he’s not done yet, in his next sentence he talks about how all of our past actions and our understanding of our past will not help us in the future and will not prevent our ultimate demise. It’s a lot to pack into a sentence.

Then I read these sentences.


I’ll be right there.

Never mind.

You need self-confidence.

Won’t you please come.

And I realized; English has changed. We don’t write like or talk like Shakespeare anymore, not even in poetry. Also I wouldn’t even know where to begin diagramming his sentences.

I can’t decide if it’s better or worse.

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