Words, glorious words

It’s fascinating and exciting (and also sometimes annoying) the way books and authors can change and shape the way we use words and phrases. For example, no one will ever (or at least not for the foreseeable future) use the phrase ’50 shades of [something]’ without it having blush-inducing connotations. It was a saying long before EL James showed us the red room of pain, but now just three pieces of writing have changed the way we use these words.

Obviously, this is not a new phenomenon – Shakespeare added thousands of words to the English language by playing around with the way words were used. He is credited with inventing such words as arouse, excitement, undress, bedroom and addiction – all words EL James must be very thankful for. (On a side note, he is also credited with inventing ‘laughable’ – something I’m sure James’s critics are thankful for when looking for a word to describe her prose.)

I realise poor Will must be rolling over in his grave at being likened to James, but the facts are clear: Shakespeare and EL James are officially the world’s most influential language innovators. I’m joking obviously, but I do think it’s interesting the way popular culture forms have such wide-ranging effects on the way we read, write and speak.


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