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Saturday, 2 January 2010

"Unfriend" was the word of 2009, as Hugh noted in his post "Unsex(t) me here, unfriend me now".

It turns out that Shakespeare did use "unfriend" - in King Lear. From the Times Literary Supplement:

Unfriend, says [Oxford University Press] in that annoying look-how-unstuffy-we-are way “has real lex-appeal”… We prefer to say that unfriend has Lear-appeal. It occurs as a participle in the first act of Shakespeare’s play, when the troubled king tries to foist Cordelia on the Duke of Burgundy: “Will you, with those infirmities she owes,/Unfriended, new-adopted to our hate … Take her, or leave her?” A few lines later, the Duke of France utters a new lexy word, employing “monster” as a verb. This usage is not recorded by Chambers but is current among the Facebook generation, as in “X’s blog was monstered by Y”. In King Lear, the Duke of France suggests that Cordelia’s offence, which has put her father in a rage, “Must be of such unnatural degree/That monsters it”. Cordelia herself wishes her father were in “a better place”.

Perhaps Shakespeare was trying to grow his vocabulary in order to impact future generations. It is good to see that he didn’t privilege one part of speech over another. Or is Shakespeare allowed to verb nouns because he isn’t, like, an irritating twenty-nothing who keeps saying “whatev-ah”?

Posted on 01/02/2010 8:27 AM by Mary Jackson
2 Jan 2010

It's always funny to whach language Nazi's trying to stiffle the growth of the living English language.

Your Shakespeare reference reminded me of high school, where when assigned the task of composing a Shakespearian Sonnnet, I did so, but with a twist.  As Shakespeare changed the traditional English Sonnet form to suit him, thus having one named after him, I too, slightly modified the Shakespearean sonnet form, and invented the EVean sonnet.  For my troubles, I recieved an F.  And another small jackboot of public education, snuffing interest in English Literature out of the student.

Well done!  I would like to personally thank that teacher for doing her bureaucratic duty.