Monday, April 22, 2013

Blogging from A-Z Challenge: S for Shakespeare—the Logodaedalian

                        S for Shakespeare—the Logodaedalian 

Even after I had finished composing and posting my blog-post of Shakespeare’s Rosalind, I found myself thinking about the man and his works. I thought of Shylock and his “Signor Antonio many a time and oft” speech in Merchant of Venice; I thought of Viola, I thought of King Lear raving mad, of Hamlet stealing his way through the eternal quandary of life and professing his doubts to himself  in the famous soliloquy : “To be, or not to be, that is the question”. And then I thought of Shakespeare as a logodaedalian, a person versed in skilfully using words.  

Shakespeare was a genius if there was one. He composed compelling speeches, crafted complex characters quopping with life, and masterfully adjoined, like the  tessellating pieces of a puzzle, the acts and scenes of his plays. But today I am going to talk about another facet of this creative genius: his fulgent logodaedaly, his stunning skill with words. 

Shakespeare has enriched the incondite and inchoate English language of his time with words and phrases he coined. A creative artist at heart, Shakespeare fathered nearly 1700 of the words we use daily, says Amanda Mabillard in an article titled Words Shakespeare Invented. Words like Amazement (“And wild amazement hurries up and down,” King John), Champion (“And champion me to the utterance! Who's there!” Macbeth) that we now use in our quotidian communications were coined by the Swan-of-Avon. 

Some other words Shakespeare coined are:  ADDICTION (OTHELLO, ACT II, SCENE II), ASSASSINATION ( MACBETH, ACT I, SCENE VII), Bedazzled (The Taming of the Shrew, Act IV, Scene V), Fashionable (Troilus and Cressida, Act III, Scene III), Inaudible( All’s Well That Ends Well, Act V, Scene II), Eyeball ( Used by Prospero in The Tempest). Many of these words may have existed in some form or the other in the Shakespearean society, says Roma Panganiban in the article 20 Words We Owe to William Shakespeare, but it is undoubtedly  Shakespeare’s innovative usage of the words that made them popular. 

In coining the fascinating words and phrases we have now domesticated, Shakespeare imaginatively convoluted the English vocabulary; he adopted words from foreign languages, attached prefixes, turned nouns into verbs and so on. I wonder how weird and wonderful there “new-fangled” words must have sounded to the English ear. Did they criticize him for his usage of neologism? May be they did. In any case, Shakespeare didn’t curb his imaginativeness and follow the ways of conventional English grammar at the time; instead he gave in to neologism and developed words and phrases that not only enriched his texts, but also bolstered the English language. 

Shakespeare's brilliant vocabulary shines like pearls in the sepia-tinted pages of his work and inspires amateurs like us to go beyond the established cannons and strive and seek new ways of communicating with our readers without being intimidated by our critical meta-voice or by the criticisms put forward by our peers. 

References: 20 Words We Owe to William Shakespeare by Roma Panganiban:

Mabillard, Amanda. Words Shakespeare Invented Shakespeare <>

Blogging from A-Z Challenge: R for Rosalind

R for Rosalind:

As I contemplated today’s blog-post, several words starting with R came to my mind: R for romance, retribution, reading, rest, retaliation, rectitude, relaxing, et cetera;  but then at the back of my mind, behind the nebulous sheets of inchoate ideas, I located the remnant of a word, the tail, if you may: Lind. Subsequently, the word that materialized from the haunting nothingness was Rosalind, the crown-jewel in the list of masterful characters the Swan-of-Avon begot in his creative life-time.

I guess we all read As You Like It at school under the strict pedantic gaze of our teachers who taught us the Acts and the scenes  so thoroughly that we never enjoyed the wit and humor liberally lathered in the text. It happened to me at least; and so I came back to Shakespeare years later to fill the vacant time at hand during my stay-at-home era in USA.

Being naturally drawn to humorous books and comic creations, I found myself drawn to Shakespeare’s comedies; and while I read As You Like It I felt naturally attracted to the vibrant virtuosity of the featous Rosalind. Dressed at Ganymede and providing love lessons to Orlando, who I always thought was an effeminate male, a weakling, Rosalind speaks the following words when Orlando says that he may die of love:
“Men have died from time to time, and worms have eaten them, but not for love.”

It is the aforementioned quotation that endeared her to me. Her practical realism, in contrast to the idyllic mushy romance of the Forest of Arden, sounds appetizingly-normal. She is the one normal human being who knows the meaning of rationalism and ratiocination. In contrast to the solitary contemplativeness of Jacques, the brooding-man, Rosalind shines in full vigor; her character, her wit and intelligence addto her latent appeal. She is amazing in her male get-up as well as in her feminine guise. As a friend to her cousin and as a lover, she dominates the stage.

 In many ways Rosalind reminds you of Viola, Shakespeare’s charming heroine who also took on the male garb in Twelfth Night. She is the ultimate empowered female, and it is often said that Viola is the synthesis of Rosalind and Julia (Two Gentlemen of Verona). And yet, even though not as full and rotund in the complexity of human emotions as Viola, you can never disregard Rosalind. To me she is one of the most delightful Shakespearean characters I ever met, and if I ever am asked to imagine myself doing one Shakespearean character on stage I would unequivocally choose Rosalind over others.