Thursday, 23 June 2011

Neologisms and national pride

Sir Walter Scott, the Scottish 19th poet and novelist, is an unexpected hero of the nationalist movements in many countries. He provided inspiration to poets and writers by leading the way in expanding language through the use of new words. In his case, often borrowed from Scots or words specific to the tradition of the Scottish Borders.

Some words and phrase he uses include:

Blackmail
Grotty
Elfish
Bartizan
Bluff
Raid
Borderer,
Glamour
Canny
Caught red-handed
Cold shoulder
Blood is thicker than water
Flotsam and jetsam
Go berserk
Infra dig
Lock, stock and barrel
Nail your colours to the mast
Savoir faire
Strain at the leash
The apple of my eye
The back of beyond
Tongue in cheek
Wide berth


Poets who used him as an exemplar in the push to enrich their own languages include František Čelakovský the Czech poet (who also translated Scott's poem Lady of the lake) and the Russian Alexander Pushkin.

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