Monday, June 25, 2007

Giving Thanks to Shakespeare

I found this at the No Sweat Shakespeare page. Most of us already know that Big Will gave us tons of new words and phrases, but a reminder is always good.

Shakespeare's words and phrases

In all of his work - the plays, the sonnets and the narrative poems - Shakespeare uses 17,677 words. Of those 1,700 were first used by Shakespeare. Writers often invent words, either by creating new forms of existing words or coining new words outright, because they are unable to find the exact word they require in the existing language. Shakespeare is the foremost of those. He was by far the most important individual influence on the development of the modern English that we speak today.

Look at this short list of words that we use in our daily speech and ask yourself if you could pass through a day without needing to use at least ten of them. There are many more and you use them without knowing that they were given to you by England's national writer.

accommodation
aerial
amazement
apostrophe
assassination
auspicious
baseless
bloody
bump
castigate
changeful
clangor
control (noun)
countless
courtship
critic
critical
dexterously
dishearten
dislocate
dwindle
eventful
exposure
fitful
frugal
generous
gloomy
gnarled
hurry
impartial
inauspicious
indistinguishable
invulnerable
lapse
laughable
lonely
majestic
misplaced
monumental
multitudinous
obscene
palmy
perusal
pious
premeditated
radiance
reliance
road
sanctimonious
seamy
sportive
submerge
suspicious

As if that were not enough, ask yourself how you could express yourself in normal conversation if Shakespeare had not put the following words together to make the language that you use in almost all the conversations that you have.

barefaced
fancy-free
catch a cold
disgraceful conduct
elbowroom
fair play
green eyed monster
heartsick
hot-blooded
housekeeping
lackluster
leapfrog
long-haired
pitched battle
clothes make the man
method in his madness
to thine own self be true
towering passion
ministering angel
dog will have his day
frailty, thy name is woman
neither a borrower nor a lender be
brevity is the soul of wit
mind's eye
primrose path
flaming youth
it smells to heaven
the lady doth protest too much
witching time of the night
it's Greek to me
live long day
breathe one's last
heart of gold
give the devil his due
too much of a good thing
naked truth
foregone conclusion
break the ice
strange bedfellows
wear one's heart on one's sleeve
all that glitters isn't gold
eat out of house and home
be all and end all
more sinned against than sinning
one fell swoop
the milk of human kindness
the course of true love never did run smooth

3 comments:

MD said...

Hey Bill,

There is a fantastic book called Shakespeare's Use of the Arts of Language, by Sister Miriam Joseph. It demonstrates Shakespeare's mastery of the arts of the trivium. Gives one a sense of the kind of training one would have to write poetry/drama on his level.

Intense, for sure; but doable if you ask me.

md

WH said...

Thanks Matthew,

I'll add this book to my reading list. I should get through the whole list if I can live to be 150.

Peace,
Bill

MD said...

Actually this book is more of one to thumb through extensively, first. Much of its contents are in effect an encyclopedia of the various figures of speech that Shakespeare mastered. The book's introductory chapters are worth reading closely in the bookstore; the author covers much of the educational practices that the student Shakespeare would have likely gone through.

take it easy,
md