Monday, June 04, 2018

The English Language

As everyone knows, William Shakespeare was a one for the words. In fact he is considered something of a specialist in that particular department — having reputedly had a vocabulary of some 17,677 separate words at his disposal.
   
Now the Oxford English Dictionary (20 volumes, £750, Oxford University Press) contains 218,632 different words and this has got me thinking: imagine getting 12 Elizabethan playwrights together in a room. You could share out all the words in the dictionary between them and they'd each end up with more than enough to produce a decent lifetime's work. And here's the best bit: not one of them would be able to understand a single word written by any of the others. 
  
All of which gives me an idea: namely to frame this otherwhile evagation with such fienden cautel, meandriform tortuosity and wanhopely intertanglements that even keenly philologues won’t have the faintest clue as to what I'm on about. 

And while the most pertinatious might be forgiven for renouncing exigent or otherwise usitative obligements only to prove susceptive to pococurantish musardry — especially late at night, after a glass of wine or two — the rorty ribaldise that later survenes when, having thumbled the hirpled visure of semblesse, they eagerly forsake the embrace of Morpheous for the sweeter allures of Venus — well it doesn't bear thinking about.

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