Shakespeare, like rappers, and the slang used by characters in The Wire, changed words, borrowed parts of words from foreign langauges, joined words together and invented entirely new ones. Shakespeare invented approximately 1700 words in his plays and poems.
He is studying what he calls “functional shifts” that demonstrate how Shakespeare’s creative mistakes “shift mental pathways and open possibilities” for what the brain can do. It is Shakespeare’s inventions–particularly his deliberate syntactic errors like changing the part of speech of a word–that excite us, rather than confuse us.
Phil Davis, also editor of The Reader magazine, will be leading a seminar on the ‘Shakespeared Brain’ at the Reading for Wellbeing Conference on 17th May, with his colleauge from Bangor University, Professor Guillaume Thierry.
Contact Claire Speer to book your place.