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

A bit more about Scots

Here are the other 97 languages Tintin appears in.

What are Thompson and Thomson called in other languages?

More about the Scots language

Translation numbers for other books

Shakespeare probably didn’t help with the King James Version of the Bible.

But Shakespeare was able to innovate because it was a time of great change for English.

Thou and you.

The video we mentioned with David and Ben Crystal. Hear Shakespeare in the original pronunciation!

The Virtual Linguist went to a production at the Globe.

How many words did Shakespeare invent? Here are some common lists going around. Many of these words are not really Shakespeare inventions.

Quite a few have been antedated to before the Bard.

An entire book on this topic, with a chapter by Elliott and Valenza.

Here’s a whole list of Shakespearian phrases that have been antedated.

David Crystal thinks that most people know 40– 50,000 words.

Speaking of the Crystals, check out their site: Shakespeare’s Words

Torticollis: Chiropractor breaks baby’s neck

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