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Shakespeare's neologisms

Eastern Market is gutted by fire this morning. Very upsetting news. This is where I go to buy meat for my pots of manfood. I will go eyeball the damage later today and report back. The mayor vowed this morning to rebuild it:

"This building has such great history and importance to the city," Fenty said. "We'll bring it back 100 percent. How could we not? It's going to take some resources and some good planning but . . . that's too much history to let get burned away."

Here's a photo of the market in better times.

[Marc Fisher explains why people love Eastern Market:

'Eastern Market was what people talk about when they get all misty about the possibilities of a city. It was a place where people came not merely to gather necessities or shop for frills, but rather a place where people came to see and be among each other. I don't live on the Hill. I don't even live within 20 minutes of the Hill. But my family and I try to get over to Eastern Market regularly because we know for a certainty that we will run into people we know, that we will meet folks who will enrich our lives, and that we will feel as if we are part of something less random than a walk through downtown or a visit to a suburban shopping center.']


If you had lived in Shakespeare's time you might not have ranked him as the best of the London dramatists. In the April issue of Harper's, Jonathan Bate explores how Shakespeare emerged to become the most famous writer in the world, and how his works have endured all the changes in taste and political fashion over the past four centuries. I can't find a (free) link to the story online, so I'm going to type in a passage on Shakespeare's neologisms. It's not true, Bate writes, that Shakespeare coined more English words than anyone else. But his coinage was still impressive:

'He gave us such verbs as "puke," "torture," "misquote," "gossip," "swagger," "blanket" (PoorTom's "blanket my loins" in Lear), and "champion" (Macbeth's "champion me to the utterance"). He invented the nouns "critic," "mountaineer," "pageantry," and "eyeball"; the adjectives "fashionable," "unreal," "blood-stained," "deafening," "majestic," and "domineering"; the adverbs "instinctively" and "obsequiously" in the sense of "behaving in the appropriate way to render obsequies for the dead." Many of Shakespeare's coinages are not new words but old words in new contexts (such as the application of "manager" to the entertainment business, with Midsummer Night's Dream's "manager of mirth") or new compounds or old words wrested to new grammatical usage. Although twenty-first-century electronic databases diminish the extent of Shakespeare's actual coinages, they immeasurably enrich our sense of the astonishingly multivalent, polysemous quality of his language.'

Also the bodacious quality. Don't forget that.


I guess this explains the governor of California.


By Joel Achenbach  |  April 30, 2007; 7:40 AM ET
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