Video Fix: Insults by Shakespeare

May 3, 2017 5:38 pm

“What, lamb! What, ladybird! God forbid! Where’s this girl? What, Juliet!”

William Shakespeare’s writing and words have still a particular effect on our ears and our hearts! But apart from love terms of address, he loved to play with and create words whenever possible:

“Go make thyself like a nymph o’ the sea: be subject to no sight but thine and mine, invisible to every eyeball else.”

Shakespeare’s protagonist Prospero, though no medical doctor, can claim to be the first fictional character to name those round objects with which we see.

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His power was in his words and according to recent analysis of his rhyming technique, only when taking under consideration the original pronunciation of the plays’ era or else the Elizabethan accent, the key to puns, jokes and rhymes, is revealed.

Shakespeare also loved to create “eloquent” insults with deeper meaning, as it has been later analysed. This week’s Video Fix is dedicated to this writer that loved “neologisms” and applied them even when…cursing!

But was Shakespeare a schizophrenic? Well, according to Merriam-Webster’s definition of neologism […] a new word that is coined especially by a person affected with schizophrenia and is meaningless except to the coiner, and is typically a combination of two existing words or a shortening or distortion of an existing word […] we could maybe say…he was! Whether the origin of his talent to use words as modeling clay was schizophrenia or brightness, Shakespeare’s unique writing and word-creations managed to transcend time and appeal to audiences all over the world.

Are the neologisms of today strong enough to transcend time too? Shakespeare proved that his “neologisms” had a logical and clever explanation behind their etymology, even when creating insults, so maybe the use of terminology‘s theories and standards for every term creation is the only way to make them successful and everlasting!

For more information on neologism related posts we invite you to check our site and have a nice Wednesday!


Written by Katerina PalamiotiTranslator, Social Media and Content Manager, Communication Trainee and Foodie at the Terminology Coordination Unit of the European Parliament.

Sources: 

  • Gudenrath, April (2012) “Insults by Shakespeare”, TED-ed. Available at: http://bit.ly/2pHZNGf (Accessed 3rd May, 2017)
  • Merriam-Webster Available at: http://bit.ly/2pYdGRt (Accessed 3rd May, 2017)
  • Furness, Hannah (2013) Shakespeare read in Elizabethan accent reveals ‘puns, jokes and rhymes’, The Telegraph. Available at: http://bit.ly/2p8UJYl (Accessed 3rd May, 2017)

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