December 9, 2010

Are you on Team Chaucer or Team Shakespeare?

"Who 'Invented' More New Words?"

"Invent" is in quotes because all we know is the first recorded use of each word, so the fact that Chaucer has more than Shakespeare isn't as interesting as who has the best words. I'm tempted to go on Team Shakespeare because I like immediacy, laughable, obscene, generous, radiance, tranquil, and useful. But I'm going with Team Chaucer, because, in addition to quantity, he's got accident, Martian, princess, superstitious, vacation, vulgar, snort, universe, theater, scissors, perpendicular, village, wildness, outrageous, femininity, dishonest, and galaxy. No, it's not really fair. Chaucer got there first, and snagged many useful words (though not useful, the word).

***

Bonus Althouse info: The first house I ever lived in was on Chaucer Drive.

43 comments:

Jason (the commenter) said...

Team Shakespeare; he's much more readable.

Treacle said...

refudiate

kent said...

Bonus Althouse info: The first house I ever lived in was on Chaucer Drive.

Ironically, scholars today believe that this was actually first built by Sir Francis Bacon.

c3 said...

I recall memorizing this for high school english:

Whan that Aprill with his shoures sote
The droghte of Marche hath perced to the rote,
And bathed every veyne in swich licour


(so if there are invented words in their I sure couldn't figure them out, all jumbled up in that middle English. And don't get me started on Beowulf)

JAL said...

I liked Chaucer when he played himself in A Knights Tale.

Positively medieval.

Coketown said...

Team Chaucer, because we still don't know if Shakespeare was himself, or someone else, or a whole team of selves!

And Jason, pick up modern transcriptions of each writer and you'll find they're equally readable. I don't understand why people read Chaucer with the middle English spelling intact.

Gabriel Hanna said...

"The Miller's Tale" puts me forever on Team Chaucer.

Geoffrey Chauser has a blog. He hasn't updated it much lately. I recommend it highly.

http://houseoffame.blogspot.com/

Moost nightes, whanne Ich have back to my couch ycome, Ich kan do litel moore than cheque myn accounte on the livre de visage and listen to a fyne ballad of Siena & The Devyce, and then to bed. So gooth the lyf of a minor functionarie.

Al is wel besydes the grete bisynesse. Thomas ys wyth my Lord John of Gaunt. My Trespuissant Lord King Richard semeth to be unusuallye chill about everythinge sithen we did return from Las Vegas and he did winne back hys crown. In deed, just yesterdaye King Richard hadde Bolingbroke ovir for dinner and seyde sum thinge lyk, “It is a goode thinge that we have decyded to pardon yow completelye for the acciouns thou didst take ayeinst ower royal crown and person yn the mercilesse parlement; thynk how terribel yt wolde be if we were merelye buildinge up ower power secretely and plotting revenge upon thee!” And then he laughed ful deepe and called for wyne and spicez.

Joe R. said...

The "on" seems wrong here.
[Chaucer, of course. There isn't the silliness about translating him into Modern English unlike Shakespeare.]

ricpic said...

Celia: O wonderful, wonderful, most wonderful, and yet again wonderful, and after that, out of all whooping!

--As You Like It





The man was vocabulary challenged! Just kidding. The man was wonderful.

Jason (the commenter) said...

Coketown: And Jason, pick up modern transcriptions of each writer and you'll find they're equally readable.

But I can read Shakespeare without a modern transcription. As far as content goes, I compare Chaucer to Boccaccio, and I much prefer Boccaccio. So Shakespeare wins.

edutcher said...

I say Team Shakespeare. There may be doubt about Will writing what he claimed he did, but Geoff plagiarized Bocaccio (sp?) like he was Joe Biden.

jr565 said...

Team shakespeare. BUT, for those who haven't read the Canterbury Tales I'd highly recommend. I had no idea thay were as bawdy and risque as they actually are. I was figuring it was going to be dull. If you can get past the Middle English,though some of the stories are quite fun.

kent said...

What if I want to be on Team Dorothy Parker, though...?

traditionalguy said...

Chaucer was a great writer with a gift of English usage for sure. But throw in Wit, and Bill Shakespeare wins forever. And how do we know where Chaucer plagerized his stuff from?

Coketown said...

Jason: Clearly those thick-rimmed glasses are not wasted on you. Boccaccio and Chaucer, a novel comparison to be sure. You must be an intellectual.

Kirby Olson said...

Chaucer's my 9th great-grandfather. I go with him.

traditionalguy said...

Flash : Urban Meyer just resigned from coach of Team Chaucer. He said he needed time to read Shakespeare.

MadisonMan said...

I don't read in middle english. I vote for Shakespeare.

kent said...

Rumor has it that some of the members of Team Hunter S. Thompson have been caught using performance-enhancing pharmaceuticals.

Gabriel Hanna said...

Chaucer and Shakespeare both cribbed plots extensively from other sources. They are not read today because their plots are original. For example, Romeo and Juliet from Wikipedia:

The earliest known version of the Romeo and Juliet tale akin to Shakespeare's play is the story of Mariotto and Gianozza by Masuccio Salernitano, in the 33rd novel of his Il Novellino published in 1476. Salernitano sets the story in Siena and insists its events took place in his own lifetime. His version of the story includes the secret marriage, the colluding friar, the fray where a prominent citizen is killed, Mariotto's exile, Gianozza's forced marriage, the potion plot, and the crucial message that goes astray. In this version, Mariotto is caught and beheaded and Gianozza dies of grief.

Luigi da Porto adapted the story as Giulietta e Romeo and included it in his Historia novellamente ritrovata di due Nobili Amanti published in 1530. Da Porto drew on Pyramus and Thisbe and Boccacio's Decameron. He gave it much of its modern form, including the names of the lovers, the rival families of Montecchi and Capuleti, and the location in Verona. He also introduces characters corresponding to Shakespeare's Mercutio, Tybalt, and Paris. Da Porto presents his tale as historically true and claims it took place in the days of Bartolomeo II della Scala (a century earlier than Salernitano). In da Porto's version Romeo takes poison and Giulietta stabs herself with his dagger.

In 1554, Matteo Bandello published the second volume of his Novelle, which included his version of Giuletta e Romeo.[14] Bandello emphasises Romeo's initial depression and the feud between the families, and introduces the Nurse and Benvolio. Bandello's story was translated into French by Pierre Boaistuau in 1559 in the first volume of his Histories Tragiques. Boaistuau adds much moralising and sentiment, and the characters indulge in rhetorical outbursts.

In his 1562 narrative poem The Tragical History of Romeus and Juliet, Arthur Brooke translated Boaistuau faithfully, but adjusted it to reflect parts of Chaucer's Troilus and Criseyde. There was a trend among writers and playwrights to publish works based on Italian novelles—Italian tales were very popular among theatre-goers—and Shakespeare may well have been familiar with William Painter's 1567 collection of Italian tales titled Palace of Pleasure. This collection included a version in prose of the Romeo and Juliet story named "The goodly History of the true and constant love of Rhomeo and Julietta". Shakespeare took advantage of this popularity: The Merchant of Venice, Much Ado About Nothing, All's Well That Ends Well, Measure for Measure, and Romeo and Juliet are all from Italian novelle. Romeo and Juliet is a dramatisation of Brooke's translation, and Shakespeare follows the poem closely, but adds extra detail to both major and minor characters (in particular the Nurse and Mercutio).

Christopher Marlowe's Hero and Leander and Dido, Queen of Carthage, both similar stories written in Shakespeare's day, are thought to be less of a direct influence, although they may have helped create an atmosphere in which tragic love stories could thrive.

Trooper York said...

This is like Twilight for pretentious nerds.

Not that there's anything wrong with that.

kent said...

This is like Twilight for pretentious nerds.

Well... bang goes that killer Team Gabriel Garcia Marquez gag I was working on, then.

LYNNDH said...

Chaucer it is. A much more interesting person. He was a spy for the crown. He just simply disappeared. No one knows where or when he died. Several yr ago while in London we did a walking tour. It stopped at the Coaching Inn where Chaucer started his Canterbury Tales. It still stands.

Be said...

In addition to everything else he did, Chaucer was a printer, right? Wasn't he like the Zapf of his time?

I'm really on the fence on this one. On one hand, have read more Shakespeare. On the other, am a big fan of all those who benefited from the patronage of this fellow:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Enguerrand_VII,_Lord_of_Coucy

Paddy O said...

Wonder if they had people constantly complaining to them, "That's not a word!"

Nowadays, use a new word and people whine and whine and whine.

Bonus PaddyO: my brother's Boston terrier is named Chaucer.

Geoff Matthews said...

But when Republicans do it, that means they're stupid.

My parents named me after Chaucer, but I haven't read a bit of his.

buster said...

Lewis Carroll invented "chortle;" used it in "Through the Looking Glass".

kent said...

Pikers. Dr. Seuss invented an entire frickin' ALPHABET -- !!!

Penny said...

So if I were one of Chaucer's pilgrims on a roadtrip to Vegas for the big dick's crown, who among you would find me "loose"?

Matthew said...

Those two are decidedly second-rank word inventors.

Nowadays we have George W. Bush, Sarah Palin and Stephen Colbert to invent new words for us.

The sad part is that we can comprehend what these three have wrought much better than we understand Jeffy or Billy.

Penny said...

"Are you on Team Chaucer or Team Shakespeare?"

Yes!

Jamie Irons said...

Due to no virtue or merit on my part, I was lucky enough to be born on Freedom Street (in Garrettsville, Ohio).

The poet Hart Crane's house was across the street; my dad had grown up there (after Crane was long gone).

But Chaucer Street is way cool.

Alex said...

Sarah Palin refudiates this.

Jason (the commenter) said...

Trooper York: This is like Twilight for pretentious nerds.

Sounds like team Rabelais is jealous!

traditionalguy said...

Team Cheeser is forming now to support Russ Feingold in the Iowa and New Hampshire early primaries. That would be a good role for Russ. He has a reputation among liberals and Rinos of shooting straight on issues. That would make him a natural to raise the Progressive's claims against that Afghan War escalator who taxes like Bush does too and who has conned them. Obama sure is getting thumped from all sides...starting right after he joined the opposition to Jewish rule in Jerusalem. Life can be inscrutable sometimes.

itzik basman said...

Team Shakespeare: but isn't there a way to find out?

Harry said...

Bonus Althouse info: The first house I ever lived in was on Chaucer Drive.

Your porn name = name of first pet + name of first street you lived on.

So Ann is "(...?...) Chaucer."

Can anyone fill in the blank?

reader_iam said...

Bonus info for reader_iam: I know which Chaucer Drive and I have stood there (decades before I ever first heard of Althouse, to be clear). Double-plus bonus info for reader_iam: first time I was handed a joint (the puff kind, you dirty-minded people, not the other) was right in the neighborhood. Althouse, of course, was long gone to other climes then, though not all *that* long gone, given the ripeness of time's passing and the perspective of time and what actually constitutes long gone.

; )

reader_iam said...

One of the weirdest, most anachronistic experiences I ever had, I mean even at the time, was attending A Luncheon at the Schrafft's [Schraffts?] improbably located in Brookside Shopping Center in the early-mid '70s. No idea if that was there when Althouse lived nearby its location.

AST said...

There's much to be said for Tyndale although the Bible provided more phrases and expressions than new words.

Neither one had any spelling rules or dictionaries, so anybody was free to coin words. As the OED illustrates. We lost a low of good words through our ignorance of Greek and Latin.

Last yere my elder sonne and I decided to resurrect the letter thorn by spelling our surname ├×orpe. It was written as a line from upper right to lower left with as a stick with a thorn emerging at a right angle to the line. It looked like the letter y, which is why people misread old
signs and such as "Ye Olde Shoppe." The "Y" was read as the "th" in thanks or thin.

Chaucer always reminds me of the ladies in The Music Man:
Professor, her kind of woman doesn't belong on any committee.
Of course, I shouldn't tell you this but she advocates dirty books.

Chaucer!
Rabelais!
Balzac!


My wife is taking a homestudy course reading old hand writing and documents for doing genealogical research. I don't think many of us could even read either one of the original documents. That's certainly true of Beowulf. The spoken version is easier to understand that the writing because the spelling was so different.

Sorry, I'm nattering on again. Up to late once again.

Mr. Bingley said...

Team Chaucer

Anybody who talks about "nether eye" and "let flay a fart" is aces in my book.

k*thy said...

JAL, I'm with you there.

A, you certainly lived on a street with a much more memorable name, than I. Smith Drive, for me. Whoopie!

In high school, the Elm Grove cop didn't even believe me...

Ignorance is Bliss said...

If we're talking quantity, not quality, then I'm on team Word Verification.

WV - Sarstic - okay, maybe we win on quality too.