Shakespeare in Somali and 36 other languages

Posted Apr 23, 2012 by Alexander Baron
William Shakespeare died on St George's Day 1616, but he has never been busier as a Shakespeare festival opens with performances of his plays in 37 languages.
William Shakespeare
William Shakespeare
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English is the lingua franca of the known universe, and the man who is more responsible than any other for that, is William Shakespeare. What do we know about him? Quite a lot. He was baptised April 26, 1564, and is thought to have been born on April 23; if true, that means he was both born and died on St George's Day, which is as quintessentially English as this most English of Englishmen could get.
Much nonsense has been written about Shakespeare, attributing his works to other people and so on, but he was the real deal.
Today, at the Global Theatre, London, in the run up to the Olympics, a festival has opened which will see his 37 plays performed in 37 languages including sign language! The BBC interviewed one young lady who is believed to have made the first ever translation of a Shakespeare sonnet into Somali.
In all, there will be 70 productions of the Bard's plays - including the classic Hamlet - and a million tickets have been sold. Shakespeare has inspired a few songs in the modern era, including Brush Up Your Shakespeare by Cole Porter and at least one song with avant guarde rhymes.
You can of course find England's greatest (still living) playwright all over the web, including at the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust.