William Shakespeare and Herman Melville are, without a doubt, two of the most renowned figures in English literature. Both writers are said to have had an incredible vocabulary and to have utilized the English language in unique ways, which is why their works are mandatory readings in high school classes around the world.
But are Shakespearean English and Melville’s prose the most sophisticated idioms of the language spoken by 365 million native speakers or has there been some development in the 160 years since the release of Moby Dick? As the following chart indicates, English teachers around the world should consider adding some Shaolin flavor to their syllabus.
By comparing the first 35,000 words on solo and collaborative albums of several members of the rap collective Wu-Tang Clan to works of Shakespeare, journalist Matt Daniels proves Brooklyn can compete with Stratford-upon-Avon in terms of lyrical variety. However, most of the Wu-Tang Clan’s affiliates could arguably still learn a thing or two by reading Moby Dick, Melvilles’ most famous novel.
Junior Data Journalist
This graph shows the vocabulary of Wu-Tang Clan artists in comparison to Shakespeare and Melville
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