Shakespeare and great insults

My friend Dan makes the point that almost every idea communicated in Shakespeare’s plays gets said in the suavest possible way. The dramas’ unprecedented range of vocabulary has a lot to do with this. We were watching the musical version of Love’s Labours Lost with Kenneth Branagh, Alicia Silverstone, etc. the other night and came to a scene where Berowne is angry that someone had warned the ladies of the French court about the scholars’ prank. I’m a pretty educated guy and I can think of two words off the top of my head for this kind of behavior: tattletale (for kids) and snitch (for grown-ups). Here’s how Berowne describes the man who ruined their fun.

“Some carry-tale, some please-man, some slight zany,
Some mumble-news, some trencher-knight, some Dick

Tell me, how is “mumble-news” not a part of our everyday language?

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One thought on “Shakespeare and great insults

  1. Kaye-Kaye says:


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