Words, words, words
If William Shakespeare had not existed, the English language as we know it today would be very different. He invented more than 1,700 words which are still in use, including some surprisingly modern ones like ‘advertising’, ‘fashionable’ and also something that students – and not only students – do, ‘gossip’!
Many lines from his plays have become well-known sayings, like ‘love all, trust a few, do wrong to none.’ Perhaps if we followed that piece of advice, the world would be a better place. ‘The course of true love never did run smooth is another,’ one that most people can relate to. And here is one which seems made for students, but perhaps you will not agree with it: ‘better three hours too soon than a minute too late.’ As we can see, there is a saying for every occasion, both good and bad. But let’s stay in the classroom. If a subject is difficult for you, you might say ‘it’s all Greek to me.’ On the other hand, if you find your schoolwork easy, you will definitely say that the solution to a Maths problem is a ‘foregone conclusion.’
Do you like reading? Thousands of novels and also non-fiction books have titles that come directly from Shakespeare. Brave New World by Aldous Huxley and The Dogs of War by Frederick Forsyth are just two examples. It is always interesting to check whether the title of the book you are currently reading derives from Shakespeare and today it’s really easy to check that on the internet.
If you are a fan of Star Trek, you might be surprised to discover that the titles of 11 television episodes are from Shakespeare, most of them coming from Hamlet, which has also inspired the titles of at least 12 major films. There is also a manga called Salad Days, a reference to Antony and Cleopatra. The list goes on and on…
It has been estimated that Shakespeare used over 30,000 words in his works. No wonder so many of them have not only survived but are in everyday use in the wide English-speaking world.
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