69. Honest or Dishonest Language, Part 3

Shakespeare was not only a unique writer, but he too was born at a unique time. Theatre in Elizabethan England was coming into its own and audiences had a hunger for "new" plays. The Renaissance was late in coming to London. London was a place of much financial activity, but culturally it was a bit of a backwater and by the time Shakespeare was writing plays Londoners had begun to understand this. Shakespeare's audiences didn't go to see a play--they went to hear a play. One of the reasons for London's cultural growth was the expansion of the English language. New words were all the rage. One of the reasons audiences went to hear a play was to hear these new words in action. In the 21st Century new words are still being invented, especially words growing out of technology; however, the number of different words we use daily is shrinking. This is largely due to all of the TV we watch. What we hear on TV is an ever shrinking selection of words. TV is not about language, but it does affect our language. TV is about profits and profits are about the number of eyeballs watching the advertising and then buying what is it is trying to sell us. In order to increase their audience, TV continually writes down to the lowest common denominator and the lower the common denominator gets, the lower down TV writes. There is also what our government does to our language: words such as waterboarding--a form of torture, not a beach sport--are consciously manipulative. Shakespeare was not a manipulator, though some of his characters were. Shakespeare was an innovator, a psychologist and an interpreter. Shakespeare used language to help people better understand themselves, their lives and the world they lived in. Shakespeare reflected the world back to his audience, so they could better understand and deal with the challenges before them. Shakespeare understood words and language are meant to communicate, not obfuscate.

originally posted April 2017
reposted March 2018

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