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MODERN ENGLISH: 1500-2000 = 500 years

William SHAKESPEARE (1564-1616)

Compiled by Dr. ALEC GILL MBE

NEOLOGISMS - New Words:
An immense number of new words are first recorded in Shakespeare's plays and sonnets. Apparently, he used a total of 17,677 different words in his writing and 10% had never been recorded in written form before. Every tenth word was brand new! He is credited with some 2000 neologisms.

SINGLE WORDS:
aerial / aggravate / brittle / bump / castigate / countless / cranny / critical / dwindle / eventful / excellent / fitful / fragrant / frugal / gnarled / gust / hint / homicide / hurry / lonely / majestic / monumental / obscene / pedant / radiance / submerge / summit.

COMPOUND WORDS:
bare-faced / blood-stained / cloud-capped (towers) / fancy-free / fore-father / ill-starred / heaven-kissing (hill) / lacklustre (eye) / leap-frog / snow-white.

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NOTE: As with Chaucer, not one single Shakespearean script survives. But thank goodness two faithful actor friends - John Hemming and Henry Condell - assembled an anthology of Shakespeare's work in the famous First Folio in 1623 - not too long after his death. A BBC Radio 4 commentator once explained the reason why Shakespeare's plays and writings were not cherished during his own lifetime: he did not attend Oxford or Cambridge, he was just an ordinary lad from the countryside, and not a worthy scholar.

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