In ur Grammar, Verbing ur Nouns

August 2008

In Elizabethan grammar, he said, 'it was common to place words in the order in which they came uppermost in the mind' - and then fit the syntax around that mental excitement. […]

…an adjective is made a verb when in The Winter's Tale heavy thoughts are said to 'thick my blood'. A pronoun is made into a noun when Olivia in Twelfth Night is called 'the cruellest she alive'. Prospero turns adverb to noun when he speaks so wonderfully of 'the dark backward' of past time; Edgar turns noun to verb when he makes the link with Lear: 'He childed as I fathered.' As Abbott says, in Elizabethan English 'You can "happy" your friend, "malice" or "foot" your enemy, or "fall" axe on his head.' Richard II is not merely deposed (that's Latinate paraphrase): he is unkinged.

Literary Review - Philip Davis on Shakespeare and Neurology

Christina commented:

How exciting! This sounds like the fun kind of research! When you study Shakespeare from a linguistic and historical point of view you get a sense of how immensely revolutionary and alternative he really was. He munted English in new ways and single-handedly altered some of the language's neural paths. Granted, some of it didn't work, but so much did. To "unking" someone is, I think, a spectacularly brilliant word. Mmmmmmm, Shakespeare. Tasty :)