Posts Tagged ‘Modern English’

The English Coined by Shakespeare

Wednesday, January 17th, 2018

English coined by William ShakespeareThere are few of us who haven’t heard of William Shakespeare, the famous 16th century English playwright. Most of us would even be able to name at least one of his most famous works. Romeo and Juliet, Hamlet or Macbeth perhaps? Far fewer of us though would have claimed to have read one of his plays  or been to see a performance. The archaic language makes comprehension difficult even for native English speakers.

However the language of Shakespeare may not be as out dated as it may at first appear. Many terms that Shakespeare either coined or popularised  are still in common usage even today. The following is a list of our favourites:

In a pickle’ – To be in a difficult position (The Tempest)

‘Waiting with bated breath’ – To anticipate something with great eagerness ( The Merchant of Venice)

‘On a wild goose chase’ – A search for something that is difficult to find or doesn’t even exist (Romeo & Juliet)

‘The be-all and end-all’ – The only thing/person that matters (Macbeth)

‘A heart of gold’ A sincere, generous and kind nature  (Henry V)

‘Fair play’ – Conformity to agreed rules or morally upright conduct  (The Tempest)

A  ‘Gossip’ – A person who habitually reveals personal or sensational facts about others (A Midnight Summer’s Dream)

‘Gloomy‘– Unhappy and without hope (Titus Andronicus)

And last but not least ‘Fashionable’ – Conforming to the current style or fashion (Troilus and Cressida)

Find out more about Shakespeare’s contribution to the English language.

WW1 Trenches Breeding Ground for Modern English

Tuesday, August 15th, 2017

Most of us, at some point in our lives, will indulge in a spot of  ‘binge drinking’. Perhaps some of us will be lucky enough to have a  ‘cushy’ job. Ever wondered when these modern English terms were first coined?

Recent research carried out by the British Library shows that many terms in current everyday English were first used in the tumultuous environment of the First World War trenches. British Library documents covering the period 1914-1918 unveil terms such as  ‘washed out’, ‘fed up’, ‘snapshot’, ‘bloke’ and ‘blind spot’. Many of these words reflect the soldiers attempts to convey the exhaustion and brutality of their existence in the trenches. Unsurprisingly the documents also revealed new euphemisms for dying such as ‘pushing up the daisies’ and ‘snuffing it’.

According to the British Library researcher Walker, “It was a very creative time for language. Soldiers have always had a genius for slang and coming up with terms. This was a citizen army – and also the first really literate army – and at the end of the war, those that survived took their new terms back to the general population.”

Soldiers in the trenches coined many modern English phrases

Read more on the Guardian.