Topic Tuesday #113 2014/09/16 "Originality"
Continuing the theme of language and communication, today let's chat about being original.
In ye olde times when language was young and the populace was largely illiterate it was remarkably flexible. Words would flow from mouth to ear thus changing the way they sounded the next time they were uttered. By where and whom a phrase was spoken, would inflict the culture of the region on the meaning of the words used. Slowly technology stepped in to slow down the diverging babble. The jeweler Gutenberg and his typeset press made it so language had permanence. Most notable is the Bible. So much of our language today is derived from this tomb that it is easy to reconcile its lasting nature as a cultural cornerstone. Other works followed the scriptures.
Outside of this, as people become slowly more literate, a new concept was born out of an old tradition. Literary license. At the Globe Theatre in London, William Shakespeare (or Christopher Marlowe or Francis Bacon, if you believe such conspiracies) wrote a volume of work that stands to this day as remarkable. Hit turn of phrase was without match and what really sets him apart in my mind is his inventiveness at creating new words. All in all, he crafted over 1,700 of our modern words. He verbed nouns, turned verbs into adjectives and cobbled together prefixes and suffix that had not business being wedded to prior words. When that failed to suit the needs he would manifest them from nothing and create something wholly original. For some in depth analysis of some of these, browse over to www.shakespeare-online.com/biography/wordscoined.html Some examples of my favorite Shakespearian words, which you might not have known owe their origin to the playwrite and master poet:
Arouse, Addiction, amazement, bedroom, blushing, circumstantial, champion, dauntless, compromise, eyeball, gossip, gloomy, luggage, jaded, hint, fixture, obscene, laughable, grovel, scuffle, swagger, majestic, mimic, outbreak, radiance, obsequiously, and one of my all time favorites, rant.
Obviously not everyone can be so original, but one must also look at the context for how Shakespeare's magic words were seeded into the vox populi. He relied on word of mouth, at the Globe, to spread the words and their meanings to the people, the common people. They entered everyday use rather quickly, being the cool thing to do at the time. It wouldn't take long for that to happen given how quickly our own society parrots whatever the best one liners were from the latest Saturday Night Live or blockbuster flick.In his day, his words were like a virus, and the contagion infected the language and peppers our pages today. He was bold and original and then made permanent in the mind and in print.
I say this to you, be generous with your words. make then varied and vaulting. If you cannot find a word that fits, MAKE ONE UP! Be original. Make Shakespeare proud.