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Home :: Archive :: 2002 :: December ::
Re: How Many Words Did Shakespeare Invent?
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 13.2423  Tuesday, 17 December 2002

[1]     From:   Stuart Hampton-Reeves <
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        Date:   Thursday, 12 Dec 2002 15:46:35 +0000
        Subj:   SHK 13.2413 Re: How Many Words Did Shakespeare Invent?

[2]     From:   Elliott H. Stone <
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        Date:   Saturday, 14 Dec 2002 20:28:03 EST
        Subj:   Re: How Many Words Did Shakespeare Invent?


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Stuart Hampton-reeves <
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Date:           Thursday, 12 Dec 2002 15:46:35 +0000
Subject: Re: How Many Words Did Shakespeare Invent?
Comment:        SHK 13.2413 Re: How Many Words Did Shakespeare Invent?

Thanks for all the replies. Out of interest, I had a look on the on-line
OED, which lists less than 300 words with first entries by Shakespeare -
and some of these depend on accepting a 1588 date for Love's Labour's
Lost. Certainly some of the words quoted by the BBC - elbow for example
- predate Shakespeare by centuries.

Stuart Hampton-Reeves

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Elliott H. Stone <
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Date:           Saturday, 14 Dec 2002 20:28:03 EST
Subject: 13.2402 Re: How Many Words Did Shakespeare Invent?
Comment:        Re: SHK 13.2402 Re: How Many Words Did Shakespeare Invent?

How can one possibly posit how many words Shakespeare coined when we can
only guess at when the plays were written? E. K. Chambers tells us that
the Tempest could not have been written much earlier than 1611 because
it is based on the wreck of Sir George Somers in Bermuda in 1611. I
believe that Edward Everett Hale got it right when he said it was based
on Gosnold's landing in the Elizabeth Islands off Cape Cod in 1602. If
one believes that Jonson edited and modernized the Canon as the Editor
of the First Folio then trying to date the coinage of a word becomes
extremely difficult. I love the Bard and get quite distressed at
theories that claim Shakespeare borrowed from the likes of Samuel
Daniels or William Strachey. It is always exactly the other way around.

Elliott H. Stone

[Editor's Note: We will not get into a discussion of the dating of *The
Tempest*. 

 

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