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Shakespeare as His Words Were Originally Pronounced


(Video Link)


Paul Meier and other scholars of the history of the English Language have reconstructed what they believe to be the way in which English words were pronounced during the time of Shakespeare. He's staging a production of "A Midsummer Night's Dream" next month in that original pronunciation:

“American audiences will hear an accent and style surprisingly like their own in its informality and strong r-colored vowels,” Meier said. “The original pronunciation performance strongly contrasts with the notions of precise and polished delivery created by John Gielgud, Laurence Olivier and their colleagues from the 20th century British theater.”


The above video is a sample of the original pronunciation.

Link via Geekosystem

Save for a few words that sound almost fluffed rather than intentionally different, I hear very little difference from regular English. It's just with a more rural British accent.

Of course, given that Americans seem to need subtitles whenever a foreigner with an accent speaks on tv (even when they make perfect sense), the fact that this is somehow 'noteworthy' doesn't really surprise me.
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"Shakespeare as His Words Were Originally Pronounced"

And they KNOW this because they invented time travel? Or did they find some steampunk recording from the early 1600's, or what?

If not, then they don't KNOW, they're guessing.
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Vonskippy, of course they're guessing, but generally base their guesses on analysis of rhyme pairs and plays on words. If a poet whose work demonstrates he doesn't habitually half-rhyme suddenly pairs 'sea' with 'play', they assume that they DID rhyme at the time. If that's so, when Falstaff says 'If reasons were as plentiful as blackberries' then 'reasons' must have been pronounced more like 'raisins' (or vice versa); the resulting pun reinforces the assumption.
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There's no 'different pronunciation' there, merely the text delivered in a mash-up of regional accents, mostly Geordie or Yorkshire with the occasional lurch into Scottish or Irish. That said, given that Hiberno-English is derived for the large part from Elizabethan English, it's probably not inaccurate.
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this is terrible! its just a bad irish accent. Im sure in Shakespearean times there were actors from all over the UK. This is just different accents and nothing to do with pronounciation
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Um, sorry, all I hear is an American accent.

Similar research here in the UK suggested that the likely accent prevalent in London at the time would have been closer to our Birmingham accent, which is completely different to the above.

For reference, here's a comedian with a Brummy accent: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sI95r6nzVZ0
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@vonskippy
This is not the first to stage a Shakespeare play in its original pronunciation. In 2005, the linguist David Crystal published a book about a similar experiment in the Globe Theatre in London: "Pronouncing Shakespeare: The Globe Experiment" (Cambridge University Press).
David Crystal's book describes the research on the Early Modern English sound system, how the actors coped with the task of learning the pronunciation (which included the use of their own dialects!), how it affected their performances and how the audiences reacted.
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@Christophe S if you read the artical its the first time is being done in NORTH AMERICA and David Crystal is involved in this project.
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When Zoe Caldwell was on Charlie Rose's show around the time of her performance in "Medea", she said the same thing.

Shakespearean English would have sounded much more like average American than it would British.

I think she said that you get the sound of modern British because one of their kings (George, I think) was German and couldn't pronounce English words properly, so instead of correcting him, they all tried to sound just like him.

-Same way the Spanish mispronounce their Bs, Ths and such because of one/more of their own kings; -Castillian lisp, I think.

Oh, and I think the current Queen of England is actually more German than she is English. Her real family name is Saxe-Coburg-Gotha, not Windsor.
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