SHAKESPEARE’S CONTRIBUTION TO ENGLISH LANGUAGE

      William Shakespeare was an English playwright,poet and actor,widely regarded as the greatest  writer in English language and the world’s greatest dramatist.Shakespeare’s contribution to the English language is as great as that of the Bible translations.His vocabulary contained about 23000 words, more than three times the number used by Milton and is supposed to be the richest vocabulary ever employed by a single individual.He wrote about a variety of subjects and touched upon so many human facts and relations that he needed such an extensive vocabulary.Shakespeare constantly criticizes or satirizes linguistics and stylistics fashions among his contemporaries.He himself experimented with all kinds of innovations,dialectal adaptations and archaisms.

       Shakespeare used nouns for verbs ,adjectives  for adverbs  and also used scattered prepositions.In “Antony and Cleopatra“  Shakespeare used ‘widow’,’beggar’,’word’ and ’lip’ as verbs.In “The Tempest” he used the adverb ‘backward’ as a noun.In “King Lear” he used phrases like ‘childed’ and ‘fathered’.In ‘Julius Ceasar” he has used ‘fathered’ and ‘husbanded’. In Shakespeare’s language we can find different prepositions used to express the same relations.Corresponding to the present day ‘repent of’ in Shakespeare may be found  ‘repent at’,’repent for’,’repent in’ and ‘repent over’.

    Shakespeare has contributed doublecomparatives and double negatives to the English language.Example;’nor hath not’,’more braver’,’worser’,’more hotter’,’more larger’,’most unkindest’,’most heaviest’.Words already superlative in meaning were given added intensity by redundant comparative and superlative endings as  in‘chiefest’,’extremist’,’perfecter’,’perfeetest’, etc. Similarly he did not always use the words where they should be according to the rules of grammar as he used  “we sent to know that willing ransom he will give” instead of “what ransom he will willingly give “. There are a number of words derived from Shakespeares Warwickshire dialect .To this class belong ‘chop’(thrust with force).His language in general, is provided by his London environment.The different levels of style, the grant,the low, and the mean appear in his writings.There are many words that we may regard as his original contribution such as;’bump’,’dwindle’,’ardent’,’illume’,’orb’,’inauspicious’,’baseless’,’multitudinous’,’courtship’,’dickens’ and ‘lonely’.

    The prefix en- was was abundantly employed by Shakespeare in a number of words. Examples are;’enmesh’,’enscheduled’,’enscar’,’ensteeped’,’entame’,’entreasured’,’etc. Independent  words are combined in to compound words such as; ‘eye-beam’,’eye –drop’,’eye –wing’,’fire –eyes’,’after –eye’,’fire –new’,’fire –robbed’,’fire –work’,’dog –weary’ and ‘arm-gaunt’.Shakespeare used some words with original meaning they had in Latin.The word ‘communicate’ was used by him with the meaning of ‘share’.When Lorenzo in “Merchant Of Venice” says ‘’let us in and expect them coming”, he is using the word “expect’ with the meaning of ‘await’.Shakespeare used  the word ‘enlargement’  to denote the meaning  ‘freedom  from confinement’ .It was Shakespeare  who demonstrated that both the longer borrowed Latin words and the shorter native words have their own kind of usefulness and effectiveness.

       Shakespeare used many words with new meanings,they include; ‘capable’(having the ability),’cloud’(overspread with gloom),’common’(vulgur tongue),’condolment’(tangible expression of sympathy),’discharge’(emission),’distemper’(illness),’directly’(at once),’dull’(tedious).Shakespeare also introduced many phrases of his own ‘public haunt of men’,’fortune’s fool’  in “Romeo and Juliet” ,’custom stale her infinite variety’,’moated grange’.In “Hamlet”  Shakespeare introduced phrases like :’To be or not to be’,’mind’s eye’,’sweets to the  sweet’.The Shakespearean phrase ‘to out Herod Herod’ has become a model after which a number of similar expressions have been created (to  out Bently Bently,to out Milton Milton,to out Darwin Darwin etc).The idiom ‘to out Herod Herod’ used to allude excessive cruel or tyrannical nature.

         Shakespeare’s attitude towards English grammar seems to be rather indifferent.We can find an irregularity and freedom in his use of  grammar. Similiarly he  did not always use the words where they should be according to the rules of grammar. Besides this we can find many constructions which are archaic in character and a construction which is ungrammatical.

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