Everyone knows that William Shakespeare invented hundreds — or perhaps thousands — of words, including swagger, zany, and rant.

Except maybe he didn’t. As more and more books become easier to search, researchers are whittling away at the Bard’s word count. What words did he really invent, and what was English like in his time?

Linguist Daniel Midgley looks at words, words, words on this episode of Talk the Talk.


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On this week’s show, we tackle a long-standing lexicography myth: Did Shakespeare really coin all the words that have been attributed to him? Keep in mind that English was going through a lexical burst, so it wouldn’t have been as hard to coin loads of words then.

With more and more books being digitised, we’re getting closer to an accurate count of the Bard’s words. But what’s the count? You’ll probably still be impressed, especially when you consider how many words you’ve invented lately.

Also, there’s a bit on Tintin being translated into Scots, and a warning: if you must go to a chiropractor, don’t take a baby along.


Show notes

Tintin is available in Scots: The Derk Isle
http://tintinscots.com/

A bit more about Scots
http://www.scotslanguage.com/books/view/2/

Here are the other 97 languages Tintin appears in.
http://www.tintinlanguages.nl/

What are Thompson and Thomson called in other languages?
http://tintin.wikia.com/wiki/Thompson_and_Thomson

More about the Scots language
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scots_language
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_the_Scots_language

Translation numbers for other books
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_literary_works_by_number_of_translations

Shakespeare probably didn’t help with the King James Version of the Bible.
http://communities.washingtontimes.com/neighborhood/worlds-best-selling-book/2011/jul/16/william-shakespeare-his-role-king-james-bible-tran/

But Shakespeare was able to innovate because it was a time of great change for English.
http://www.nosweatshakespeare.com/resources/shakespeare-early-modern-english/

Thou and you.
http://nfs.sparknotes.com/twelfthnight/page_136.html

The video we mentioned with David and Ben Crystal. Hear Shakespeare in the original pronunciation!
http://twentytwowords.com/2013/09/05/performing-shakespeares-plays-with-their-original-english-accent/

The Virtual Linguist went to a production at the Globe.
http://virtuallinguist.typepad.com/the_virtual_linguist/2009/06/english-in-shakespeares-time.html

How many words did Shakespeare invent? Here are some common lists going around. Many of these words are not really Shakespeare inventions.
http://www.buzzfeed.com/lukelewis/words-you-didnt-realise-william-shakespeare-invented
http://mentalfloss.com/article/48657/20-words-we-owe-william-shakespeare
http://www.cracked.com/article_15859_10-words-phrases-you-wont-believe-shakespeare-invented.html

Quite a few have been antedated to before the Bard.
http://www.bostonglobe.com/ideas/2013/08/17/coined-shakespeare-think-again/tWFE6b8qTD5gnybL5fOn8H/story.html

An entire book on this topic, with a chapter by Elliott and Valenza.
http://www.scribd.com/doc/153495727/Advances-in-Stylistics-Jonathan-Culpeper-Mireille-Ravassat-Stylistics-and-Shakespeare-s-Language-Transdisciplinary-Approaches-Continuum-2011

Here’s a whole list of Shakespearian phrases that have been antedated.
http://tenser.typepad.com/tenser_said_the_tensor/2006/06/antedating_shak.html

David Crystal thinks that most people know 40– 50,000 words.
http://david-crystal.blogspot.com.au/2010/01/on-800-word-myth.html

Speaking of the Crystals, check out their site: Shakespeare’s Words
http://www.shakespeareswords.com/

Torticollis: Chiropractor breaks baby’s neck
http://www.theage.com.au/national/health/call-for-age-limit-after-chiropractor-breaks-babys-neck-20130928-2ul6e.html


Show tunes

‘Shakespeare’s Sister’ by the Smiths
from the album The Joke Isn’t Funny Anymore (Single)

‘Dawned on Me’ by Wilco
from the album The Whole Love