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Transactions of the Wisconsin Academy of Sciences, Arts and Letters
volume V (1877-1881)

Butler, James D.
The Απαξ Λεγὁμενα in Shakspere[Shakespeare],   pp. 161-174 PDF (3.7 MB)


Page 161


              The cA,.f4; A,7r6'psta il Shak-spere.    161
           THE "Aizas Asrouroa IN SHAKSPERE.
             Omnia rara pradclara; ipsa raritate rariora.
                   BY JA-IES DAviE BUTLTEl, LL. D.
  WVhen we examine the vocabulary of Shakspere what first
strikes us is its copiousness. His characters are countless, and
each one speaks his own dialect. His little fishes never talk like
whales, nor do his whales talk like little fishes. This impression
of mine grows stronger when I read in the Encyclopedia Britannica;
"the language assigned to each character is made suitable to it,
and to no other, and this with a truth and naturalness which the
readers and spectators of every following age have recognized."
Those curious in such matters have espied in his works quota-
tions from seven foreign tongues, and those from Latin alone
amount to one hundred and thirty-two.
  Our first impression that the Shaksperian variety of words is
multitudinous is confirmed by statistics.  The titles in Mrs.
Cowden Clarke's Shaksperian Concordance, counted one by one
by a friend have been ascertained to be more than twenty-four
thousand. The total vocabulary of Milton's poetical remains is
more nearly seventeen than eighteen thousand (17,377) ; and that
of Homer including the hymns as well as both Iliad and Odys-
sey is scarcely nine thousand. Five thousand eight hundred and
sixty words exhaust the vocabulary of Dante's Divina Commedia.
In the English Bible the different words are reckoned by Mr. G.
P. Marsh in his lectures on the English language, at rather fewer
than six thousand. Renau's estimate is 5,642. The number of
titles, however, in Cruden's Concordance has been found to be
greater by more than a thousand, namely 7,209. Those in Rob-
inson's lexicon of the Greek Testament I have learned by actual
count to be ab)ut five thousand five hundred.
  Some German writers on Greek grammar believe they could
teach Plato and Demosthenes useful lessons concerning Greek
moods and tenses, even as the ancient Athenians, according to
the fable of Phaelrus, undertook to prove that a pig did not
      1i


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