Wednesday 18 September 2013

The Inky Fool Also Rises

My apologies for the aposiopesis. An aposiopesis is a breaking off in mid...

I'm afraid I've been terribly busy finishing off my new book, which I've completed in a furious shturmovshchina. It's all about the flowers of rhetoric and should be out in November.

Anyway, I'm exhausted so I shall merely post a link to this article on authors and their favourite words. I'd never noticed quite how much Shakespeare used the word sweet.

A little point that I'd to add the article is that writers also have words that they absolutely hate. Shakespeare hated the word also. He did use it, but only 36 times in his complete works. That's less than once per play. To give a little comparison, Francis Bacon would sometimes use the word that many times in a single essay. Also, Shakespeare usually puts also in the mouths of low and foolish characters: five of those alsos are said by Fluellen, in Henry V, four by Falstaff, three by Sir Hugh Evans, and two by Dogberry also.

I don't have any idea why Shakespeare didn't like also. But if the hatred was good enough for him, it's good enough for me. Or, as the Katherine of Valois puts it in her mangled English in Henry V:

Den it sall also content me.

Also, I've just checked in the Oxford Dictionary of Quotations. It's a big, thick dictionary with over 17,000 famous lines. It also has an index at the back so you can look them up by word. Only two quotations contain the word also. That's a pretty astonishing result. Shakespeare must have been on to something.

Update: It's occurred to me that they also serve who only stand and wait [tables]. For some reason that's not listed in the ODQ's index. Hmm.

Well he shouldn't have done.


  1. It's all so complicated!

  2. Thanks for that lovely word. My wife will be Mrs Aposiopesis to me from now on, she does it all the time! My other favourite word is tm-blooming-esis.

    With regard to the also sprach Zarathustra, he didn't, not in English anyway. That traditionally translates as thus spake Zarathustra, but as seems to be becoming more prevalent in common parlance, simply, so....

  3. Ben tornato! Looking forward to your new book.

  4. "Shakespeare hated the word also." Do you have a source for this or are you basing that statement on his lack of usage of the word. If there is someplace where this is documented, can you please provide the source as I would like to use it for something else? FYI - I hate the word too. Thanks!

  5. The working is in the post. Shakespeare left no diaries.

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  7. They also Serve... was the title of a chapter or section in "A century of Punch' (all cartoons) - it was illustrated with a picture of a waiter with soup poured over his head.