Thursday, September 14, 2006

The Wonder of Language: Shakespeare

Shakespeare was the first to use these words in writing: aerial, amazement, assassination, courtship, frugal, gloomy, gnarled, laughable, lonely, multitudinous, obscene, perusal, pious, sanctimonious. . . and many more.

Shakespeare also came up with some very familiar compounds: proud-pied April, heaven-kissing hill, and world-without-end hour.

He came up with some great double plays: barefaced, civil tongue, cold comfort, eyesore, faint-hearted, fancy free, foregone conclusion, foul play, fair play, green-eyed, half-cocked, heartsick, high time, hotblooded, itching palm, lackluster, laughing-stock, leapfrog, lie low, long-haired, love affair, minstering angel, piched battle, primrose path, sea change, short shrift, snow-white, stony-hearted, tongue-tied, towering passions.

Do any of these cliches sound familiar: brevity is the soul of wit, there's the rub, to thine own self be true, it smells to heaven , the very witching time of night, the primrose path, though this be madness, yet there is method in it, dog will have his day, neither a borrower nor a lender be, frailty, thy name is woman, something is rotten in the state of Denmark, hoist with his own petard, the lady doth protest too much, to be or not to be, sweets for the sweet, to the manner born, more in sorrow than in anger.

Lastly, a fun thing to do regarding Shakespeare: In 1610, the most intensive year in translating the King James Bible, Shakespeare was 46 years old. Turn to the 46th psalm as it appears in the King James Bible. Count down to the 46th word from the beginning and then count up to the 46th word from the end, excluding the Selah. Do you see Shakespeare embedded in the text?

Thanks to Richard Lederer, author of Miracle of Language


At 5:21 AM, Blogger missmellifluous said...

Shakespeare is really quite amazing, isn't he. I do love his plays. Which one is your favourite, Candy?

At 8:13 AM, Blogger candyinsierras said...

I haaven't seen many of them, but I liked Henry V, and Twelfth Night. What about you?

At 3:09 PM, Blogger missmellifluous said...

I like Measure for Measure, Much Ado, Romeo and Juliet and there are so many I haven't read/seen and some that I have read/seen too many times.


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