Keeping Shakespeare alive!


As we get farther and farther from Shakespeare, chronologically, English continues to change, and his language will be continually harder for modern readers to follow. One way to counteract this is to revive now-uncommon words that he used. 

“Brabble” is an old word for a fight which Shakespeare used in Twelfth Night and Titus Andronicus. It is defined on this amazing site:

Brabble appears in some current dictionaries as an obsolete word, but in its sense of prattle or jabber. But this meaning of “quarrel” is clear in the plays as cited, and is given by

Brabble is used this way in my new fantasy novel, High Iron. I give it to a dwarf, who is talking about a long-ago schoolyard fight (although he wasn’t actually in a schoolyard).

The word sounds like a fight already, doesn’t it? Easy enough for our brains to latch onto. 

Another old word I revive is bourn, which means boundary — either in a figurative sense, or literally a land boundary. It appears seven times in Shakespeare, according to the site above. Once again I give it to dwarves, in High Iron. Dwarves just seem Shakespearean, don’t they?

This word “bourn” doesn’t seem as intuitive to me as brabble does . . . but now perhaps my readers will grasp it with no second thoughts when they see it in Shakespeare. 

High Iron has a third Shakespearean word, also, which is . . . I can’t remember, and didn’t make a note. But readers will get it at least from context when they come to it, trust me!





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