The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 12.0280 Tuesday, 6 February 2001
From: Stephanie Hughes <
Date: Monday, 05 Feb 2001 12:17:22 +0000
Subject: 12.0264 Re: The Number 20
Comment: Re: SHK 12.0264 Re: The Number 20
I'm sorry that I didn't keep the post so don't recall who suggested that
Shakespeare may have used the number twenty so often because it scans.
Surely this is the case. It's a lovely word. It has that nice Anglo
Saxon "twel" sound, like "twelve," rather unique when you think about
it, rather like a little bell. The two ts give it a soft clinking sound,
like coins dropping on a table covered with cloth. It rhymes with
In considering content and intent we can forget that the guy was, first
and foremost, a poet. Unlike other kinds of writers who seek to vary
their choices of words, poets use the words they especially like over
and over, like gourmets who, despite the fact that they know many
dishes, will actually choose to eat the same ones over and over.
As for its numerological value, all the low value numbers have some
function, but twenty has far less significance than twenty-two or even
twenty-one. More significant is that, as has been noted, it must
function in one of the pre-literate counting systems, which were often
(always?) based on the number of fingers on the human hand. Even the
word "score" shows that one mark, or score, on a stick or surface,
indicated a set of twenty.
But surely in this case it's the pretty sound.