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Last Updated: Wednesday, 4 February, 2004, 17:04 GMT
Bard loses in Darth Vader battle
Darth Vader
Darth Vader: One of the masters of the English language?
The words of Star Wars' Darth Vader are better-known than those of Wordsworth and Shakespeare, according to a survey.

Some 71% of people aged 25-44 knew the quote "If only you knew the power of the dark side" came from the movie villain, Yellow Pages research found.

But 10% correctly said the Shakespeare quote "Now is the winter of our discontent" came from Richard III.

And just 9% knew the words "I can resist everything except temptation" came from Oscar Wilde.

The survey had asked people if they could spot a quote by The Office character David Brent.

Charles Gray (front) as Julius Caesar in BBC production
Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your money
NOT from Julius Caesar
But it later emerged the quote was never used in the programme.

A spokeswoman for Yellow Pages said the quote - "Accept that some days you are the pigeon, and some days you are the statue" - had been taken from the internet.

"We did check a number of sources and acted in good faith as this quote appeared in a number of different sources," said the spokeswoman.

When asked to complete the line "Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your..." from Shakespeare's Julius Caesar, some people said swords or money rather than ears.

The survey was carried out to mark the Words Worth Reading event on 19 March, when 175,000 children across the UK will simultaneously recite Wordsworth's Daffodils.

More than 1,000 people were interviewed for the research, commissioned by Yellow Pages.

Former Culture Secretary and Wordsworth scholar Chris Smith said: "It's understandable that people should remember contemporary sources better than the classics.

"But we want to ensure they're also aware of some of the great and most enduring writing in the English language."

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