Expand your vocabulary and learn to speak like Shakespeare


Publicado por Sophie

I couldn't claim to be from Will Shakespeare's hometown without paying tribute to the father of modern English himself! The English language owes a great debt to Shakespeare. He invented over 1700 of our common words by changing nouns into verbs, changing verbs into adjectives, connecting words never before used together, adding prefixes and suffixes, and creating totally original words. Therefore, the title of this article's rather misleading because we actually use a lot of his words in everyday English:

addiction    advertising    bedroom      blanket       champion        critic     dawn         drugged  elbow     excitement     fashionable     flawed     gloomy      gossip     hint      hurried      impede        impartial     jaded     lonely      luggage     marketable       mountaineer     outbreak     obscene    pendant         premeditated       radiance        remorseless      secure    summit      torture      tranquil      undress       unreal      varied         worthless      zany

Yep. Shakespeare invented all of these. And if that wasn't enough, the Bard of Avon was familiar with seven foreign languages and often quoted them directly in his plays. His vocabulary was the largest of any writer, at over twenty-four thousand words. Just to put that into perspective, the average native speaker typically uses about 5,000 words in speech and 10,000 in writing.

So how can one aspire to that? Well, I guess one way to widen your vocabulary is to step out of your comfort zone and try to express yourself in different ways without using the same old familiar words. A place to start is with curse words. Shakespeare was a master of these. He coined and used some absolutely excellent insults throughout his work.

The Shakespeare cursing game:

To help you make your insults more colourful, here are some of Shakespeare's finest. If you want to direct the insult at someone, use "Thou art a" (you are a) and then a word from each column. If it's just for a general outburst of exasperation, then the 3 words suffice. I don't know what half these words mean but said in an angry voice they do the trick....and any combination works!

Column 1 Column 2 Column 3
artless base-court apple-john
        bawdy               bat-fowling             baggage
bootless beetle-headed bladder
        beslubbering        beef-witted             barnacle
clouted clay-brained bum-bailey
        churlish            boil-brained            boar-pig
        cockered            clapper-clawed          bugbear
currish crook-pated clack-dish
        craven              common-kissing          canker-blossom
        dankish             dismal-dreaming         clotpole
        dissembling         dizzy-eyed              coxcomb
fobbing elf-skinned flap-dragon
        droning             doghearted              codpiece
        errant              dread-bolted            death-token
        fawning             earth-vexing            dewberry
        froward             fat-kidneyed            flax-wench
gorbellied folly-fallen giglet
        frothy              fen-sucked                  flirt-gill
        gleeking           flap-mouthed            foot-licker
        goatish             fly-bitten                   fustilarian
        impertinent         fool-born               gudgeon
        infectious          full-gorged             haggard
mewling idle-headed lewdster
        jarring                guts-griping            harpy
        loggerheaded        half-faced            hedge-pig
        lumpish               hasty-witted          horn-beast
        mammering        hedge-born               hugger-mugger
        mangled             hell-hated              joithead
        paunchy             ill-breeding            lout
roguish pottle-deep moldwarp
        pribbling           ill-nurtured            maggot-pie
        puking              knotty-pated            malt-worm
        puny                milk-livered              mammet
        qualling            motley-minded           measle
        rank                onion-eyed                   minnow
        reeky               plume-plucked           miscreant
        ruttish             pox-marked              mumble-news
venomed swag-bellied skainsmate
        saucy               reeling-ripe              nut-hook
        spleeny             rough-hewn              pigeon-egg
        spongy              rude-growing            pignut
        surly                    rump-fed                puttock
        tottering           shard-borne             pumpion
        unmuzzled         sheep-biting            ratsbane
        vain                   spur-galled                 scut
        villainous          tardy-gaited            strumpet
yeasty weather-bitten wagtail
        warped              tickle-brained          varlot
        wayward             toad-spotted            vassal
weedy unchin-snouted whey-face


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