Did Shakespeare invent as many words and phrases as claimed?


According to an Australian scholar, Shakespeare did not use phrases like "it's in Greek for me" or "a futile search."

In a published article on the University of Melbourne website by Dr. David McInnism se accuses the Oxford English dictionary of bias over its citation of naming Shakespeare as the creator of hundreds of English words. The Oxford English Dictionary (OED) has more than 33000 Shakespeare quotes, McInnis says, with about 1.500 calling them "the earliest evidence of the English word" and about 7.500 defined as " the first evidence of a particular use of meaning ”.

“But the OED is biased: especially in the early days, literary examples are preferred and the most famous among them. The complete works of Shakespeare were frequently paved in the earliest examples of the use of words, even though the words or phrases may have previously been used by less famous people and by less literary people. "

According to the author of the article, Shakespeare did not actually invent all the words and phrases that were attributed to him in his day and are still attributed to him today.

“His audience had to understand, at least, the essence of what he wanted to say, so his words were mostly words that were in circulation or logical combinations of pre-existing concepts. "

The phrase “it's Greek for me” (“it's Greek to me”), for example, refers to an unintelligible speech that Julius Caesar made when Casca tells Cicero that “Those who don't understand him smile at each other and shake their heads. but, for my own part, it was Greek to me. "

The work, which McInnis dates from 1599, is the earliest example of the phrase in the Oxford English dictionary, but this phrase was also used in Robert Greene's The Scottish History, printed in 1598 and possibly written in 1590. .

"In it, a man asks a lady if she will love him and she responds in an ambiguous way:" I can't hate. " He pressed and asked if she will marry him, to which she pretended not to understand: “it's in greek for me, my lord"Was his last reply."

For its part, Shakespeare's play "Romeo and Juliet" was cited by the OED as the first example of the phrase of a futile search in 1595. This phrase was said by Mercury to Romeo and is the following:

“No, if your ingenuity pawns the wild goose hunt, I think I'm lost; Well, surely you have more of a wild goose in only one sense than I have in all five of mine. Was I playing the goose with you? "

But McInnis points the use of this phrase in 1593 by the English peta Gervase Markham when he talks about labeling. Likewise, McInnis comments that Shakespeare's words are sometimes memorable and original while there are others, as in the case of the phrase "to make an ass of oneself", where he comments that the playwright seems to have actually invented that phrase.

"So, Did Shakespeare really invent all those words? No not really. He invented some; the most common ones occurred to him as a combination of the most memorable or the most used, and we can often find earlier uses that the Oxford English dictionary has not yet cited. Shakespeare's talent lies in his knowledge of human nature, in his ability to tell great stories, and in his creation of wonderful characters., not just from an ability he may or may not have using new words. "

A spokesperson for the OED said it had a full-scale review scheduled which is currently underway and that seeks to revise each word to, according to comments, "improve the accuracy of definitions, derivations, pronunciations and historical quotations"

“A significant part of the job is doing new research from a wide range of digital files and resources. These reveal a great deal of evidence that was not seen by the dictionary's original editors, who from the beginning accepted any type of text, literary or not, as valid evidence. As part of the process, we have discovered earlier evidence for many words and phrases previously attributed to Shakespeare"

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  1.   silvinarubio59 said

    I think it is obvious that Shakespeare did not create all those words, as mentioned in the article, his ability was to put those words together to eloquently reach people.