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Joined: 22 Nov 2008
Posts: 2998

Location: Owaka, New Zealand

PostPosted: Tue Jan 13, 2009 4:18 am    Post subject: Words come and gone  Reply with quote

I am reading an article called A Brief History of English by David Crystal - this just turned up when we were tidying and I am uncertain where it came from - perhaps my brother-in-law.  It is hugely interesting but what I thought was sort of relevant to here were a few comments on the increase in words in the 16th and 17th century.  

We all know that Shakespeare added many words and phrases but this article talks of other authors.  "About 500 or so words have a first recorded use in Spenser, for example.  Among those...are amenable, dismay, cheerless, indignant, jovial, lawlessness, suffused, tamborine and thrilling.  He had a great liking for new adjectives ending in -ful, adding it to verbs as well as the more usual nouns, but hardly any survived:  adviceful, avengeful, baneful, chanceful, choiceful, dislikeful, dueful, gazeful, groanful, rewardful, senseful, spoilful, toilful, tuneful, vauntful, wreckful.  Spenser is a good example of how an individual author's stylistic preferences do not a,lways have  apermanent effect on a language.  There can be a big gap between what an author wants to say and what the community thinks is routinely worth saying."

Crystal goes on to talk of more regional variation during the 18th century, but "what one person sees as an enriching diveristy another person sees as a divisive fragmentation."  

It's all very fascinating but most of it is to do with the development of the language not books or authors as such.

Cheers, Caro.

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