23 April 2016

10 Words Shakespeare Used That No One Can Work Out

In honour of the #Shakespeare400 anniversary on 23 April 2016, this week’s HaggardHawks YouTube video is looking at a part of Shakespeare’s writing that isn’t dealt with all too often.

Everybody knows Shakespeare invented a considerable number of the 31,534 words he used in his work—as many as 1 in every 20, if some statistics are to be believed—and alongside those, he transformed many pre-existing words into different parts of speech, a process known as anthimeria. So if you’ve ever grazed, squabbled with, elbowed, caked or ghosted someone, then you’ve got Shakespeare to thank for it: none of those had been used as verbs before he got hold of them...

All this linguistic playfulness, however (coupled with the obvious fact that his writing is four centuries old) can make Shakespeare’s work tough to navigate these days, and a little patience and background knowledge is often are needed to unlock some of his toughest lines. But even the best Shakespeare scholars have to admit that—well,  sometimes we just don’t know what the hell he’s talking about.

Armgaunt. Eftest. Pajock. In his buttons. The list of words and phrases that crop up in Shakespeare’s work that no one can quite decipher runs on and on. But just because we don’t know for sure what he meant doesn’t mean that we can’t have an educated guess. And it’s that that we’re looking at in this week’s video…

1 comment:
  1. I've been blogging since 2006; I recently stumbled upon your Youtube posts. I very much enjoy you/them. I am blithe to have found your blog, for I am quite fond of linguistics. I plan on being back. Nice to meet you !