HOW DIFFICULT IS SHAKESPEARE? David Crystal in his book THINK ON MY WORDS argues that Shakespeare’s language is not that difficult. Cristal cites a database which counts 47,365 instances of words in Shakespeare which have changed their meaning between Early Modern and Modern English, a total which is just over 5% of the 884,647 words in Shakespeare. (And a number of the words that have changed meaning will be clear from context). He also estimates that some 350 out of some 3500 points of grammar in Modern English were different in Early Modern English—about 10%.
Crystal concludes (page 15) that: “At worst we are talking about somewhere between 5 and 10 per cent of Shakespeare’s grammar and vocabulary posing a problem.”