The humor of English
Posted by LizzyBeth
Words… words… words…
Brian talked about empty words…and I am going to talk about the power of words, the humor of words, and my love of words.
English is a fascinating language. It has been refereed to as the bastard tongue because it borrows shamelessly for other languages and makes those words its own. It is curious how English has changed over the years. Those of you who have struggled over reading and/or watching a Shakespearean play maybe surprised to know that Shakespearean English is actually classified as modern English. It would seem that while English gathers words from other languages it does not always retain said vocabulary. John Branyan points out in his little skit that Shakespeare had a working vocabulary of 54000 words while the modern American has only about 3000. I am not sure how accurate his numbers are but it doesn’t sound to far off.
Here is a little humor on this very subject:
Shakespeare would have lived during the height of English word borrowing. As part of his grammar schooling (aka elementary education) he would have mastered Latin, Greek and French. Word borrowing form these languages would have been acceptable as well us rather common. His peers would have known what he was talking about. Shakespeare also made up words. We’d call him a wordsmith. But he gave us words like “heartburn” and “puke.” But one of the joys of the English language is that it is not stagnant. We may have lost words but we gain words all the time as well. And we don’t have to go back that far to see new words. No one had heard of Google 15 years ago and now Google is not only a noun but a verb. I google things all the time. “Just google it.” There are now ipads, ipods, skype/skyping. Words that are now part of our every day vocabulary.
So don’t be daunted by the immensity of the English language. Embrace it; after all for most of us it is our native tongue. Read the classics and enjoy the process of learning new words, rediscovering old words, and keeping the English language alive!
About LizzyBethThere is a Story inside of me that I must give a voice. I write so that imagination can take me to Faerie and I can catch a glimpse of the Otherworld and hopefully so will you.
Posted on December 30, 2011, in Authors, Humor, Lantern Hollow Press Authors, Rachel Burkholder, Shakespeare and tagged Bastard Tongue, English, John Branyan, Shakespeare, The Three Little Pigs. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.