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Home :: Archive :: 1995 :: March ::
Re: Pronunciation
Shakespeare Electronic Conference, Vol. 6, No. 0159.  Saturday, 4 March 1995.
 
(1)     From:   Ron Moyers <
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        Date:   Friday, 3 Mar 1995 9:45:04 -0600 (CST)
        Subj:   RE: SHK 6.0155  Re: Pronunciation
 
(2)     From:   T. Fred Wharton <
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        Date:   Friday, 3 Mar 95 10:46:02 EST
        Subj:   Kate/Cat
 
(3)     From:   Andre Bourassa <
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        Date:   Friday, 3 Mar 1995 12:49:17 -0400 (EDT)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 6.0155 Re: Pronunciation
 
(4)     From:   Carmine Dibiase <FCD2@JSUMUS>
        Date:   Friday, 03 Mar 95 12:22:33 CST
        Subj:   re: pronunciation
 
(5)     From:   Dan T. M. How <
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        Date:   Friday, 3 Mar 1995 17:03:57 -0800
        Subj:   Re: SHK 6.0155  Re: Pronunciation
 
(6)     From:   Roger D. Gross <
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        Date:   Friday, 3 Mar 1995 16:51:04 -0600 (CST)
        Subj:   pronouncing the names
 
(7)     From:   Bill Grantham <
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        Date:   Friday, 3 Mar 1995 17:03:52 -0800
        Subj:   Re: SHK 6.0155  Re: Pronunciation
 
 
(1)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Ron Moyers <
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Date:           Friday, 3 Mar 1995 9:45:04 -0600 (CST)
Subject: 6.0155  Re: Pronunciation
Comment:        RE: SHK 6.0155  Re: Pronunciation
 
To Ronald Dwelle,
 
From a quick skim 'n' scan, I agree with you that Romeo should be disyllabic in
almost all cases--if one buys into a basically iambic pulse (& I do).
Occasionally, the trisyllabic pronunciation seems likely to complete the final
iamb at the end of a line (e.g., 2.2.51, 2.2.93, 3.1.172, and several others).
The only trisyllabic pronunciation I note that does not fall at the end of a
line is at 3.1.166: "Retorts it. Romeo, he cries aloud."  Haven't taken great
pains to be absolutely comprehensive, but the verse seems, quite consistently,
to demand the two syllable pronunciation that would be likely in verbal
expression.
 
To Ray Allen,
 
Theodora Irvine's handy _How to Pronounce the Names in Shakespeare_ (1919) was
reissued "with recent addenda" as _A Pronouncing Dictionary of Shakespearean
Proper Names_ in 1944 (a Barnes & Noble paperback with a cover price of $1!).
I'm sure the B&N paperback is long out of print (fortunately, I found an
inexpensive copy at a used bookseller), but does anyone know of an in-print
edition of the work that costs less--a lot less--than $48?
 
--Ron Moyer
 
(2)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           T. Fred Wharton <
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Date:           Friday, 3 Mar 95 10:46:02 EST
Subject:        Kate/Cat
 
I concur with Anna Cole that "Kate" sounds attractive and confers a kind of
warmth and charm on the wearer. Still, names are an important part of a sense
of self, and "Kate" is not who she wants to be. Isn't Petruchio's diminution of
her name to a household Kate - however tasty - just part and parcel of his
appropriation of the woman herself?
 
Fred Wharton.
 
(3)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Andre Bourassa <
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Date:           Friday, 3 Mar 1995 12:49:17 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: 6.0155 Re: Pronunciation
Comment:        Re: SHK 6.0155 Re: Pronunciation
 
One can read "miroher" for "miroir" in Francois de Sales. In popular French,
Quebecers do pronounce "moi" and "toi" as "mway" and "tway" instead of "mwah"
and "twah", which is a regular colonial heritage. But the old French accent
doesn't occur everytime. For example, "roi" is now pronunced regularly by
everyone in Quebec, even if it surely sounded like "rway" in the time of
Shakespeare. I deliberately use here Quebec instead of Canada because colonial
accent in popular French has not been preserved exactly the same way in Acadia
and in Quebec. I think, for example, and I may be wrong, that the rolling Rs
are more frequent among Acadians. One should not forget either that the accent
of the french comedians and the accent of the french court was not necessarily
the same. Jean Duvignaud, a specialist of theatre and society in France, said
once to my Quebec students that most comedians in Paris at that time had the
accent of Normandie.
 
Andre G. Bourassa, Departement de theatre
Universite du Quebec a Montreal

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(4)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Carmine Dibiase <FCD2@JSUMUS>
Date:           Friday, 03 Mar 95 12:22:33 CST
Subject:        re: pronunciation
 
A diminutive of the name "Pietro" is "Pietruccio," or "Petruccio," the last
syllable of which is pronounced (according to English spelling) "cho," as in
the first syllable of "chocolate."  My question is this: is the name
"Petruchio" an English spelling intended to preserve an Italian pronunciation,
or is it an Italian spelling?  If it is an Italian spelling, then of course we
have the pronunciation problem (follow the Italian or anglicize?).  But can
pronunciation of foreign names possibly have been stable in Shakespeare's day?
 
    - Carmine Dibiase
 
(5)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Dan T. M. How <
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Date:           Friday, 3 Mar 1995 17:03:57 -0800
Subject: 6.0155  Re: Pronunciation
Comment:        Re: SHK 6.0155  Re: Pronunciation
 
In response to Steven Gagen...
 
You caught me on that one, and I apologize.  I had forgotten that old French
had rolled r's, and oi/oy was pronounced differently, but wouldn't "boys" be
pronounced "bway"?
 
In response to Michael Swanson...
 
You missed my point.  I have both Voice and the Actor, and The Actor and the
Text, and I understand your point, but it seems you missed mine.  My point was
whether or not names would have been pronounced as they would in their assumed
native language, not whether or not current scansion is valid.  Read my post
again.  Scansion is a way of life for me, and I didn't want to give the
impression that I didn't know what I was talking about.
 
In response to everybody else
 
In the production of TotS that I saw, they way "Kate" was pronounced came out
as a mix between "Kate" and "cat", so both puns came across well. 2.1.269:
Petruchio: "For I am he am born to tame you, Kate, / And bring you from a wild
Kate to a Kate / Conformable as other household Kates."  He wants to tame this
wild creature to be conformable as other household creatures.  This seems to
justify that pronunciation of "Kate" similar to that of "Cat"  Are there such
things as "wild" cates, that need to be tamed to that of a "household" cate?
Also a general question:  would it be possible that the pronunciation of "Kate"
could vary within the show?  I myself have a friend of Catherine, who I call
"Cat" for short.  This is not as uncommon as many people seem to think.
 
(6)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Roger D. Gross <
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Date:           Friday, 3 Mar 1995 16:51:04 -0600 (CST)
Subject:        pronouncing the names
 
Several questions about name-pronunciation have popped up lately and also a few
doubtful answers.
 
URGENT:  Ray Allen...please stop using Theodora Irvine's HOW TO PRONOUNCE THE
NAMES IN SHAKESPEARE.  The book is wrong more often than right.  It was based
exclusively on Victorian tradition and by that time knowledge of both the verse
system and Elizabethan pronunciation had been lost. The book was so thoroughly
discredited that it went out of print quickly.  Please don't trust it.
 
There are only three kinds of evidence by which we may reasonably determine
pronunciation of words in Shakespeare:
 
        -  His verse system, which is MUCH more regular than many (including
John Barton and Cicely Berry) think.  Both Barton and his colleague, Berry,
fall into a terrible trap: they mis-define iambic pentameter and then conclude
that Shakespeare doesn't really write it consistently.  If you understand the
system, you'll find that he does.
 
        -  His rhymes, which tell what words sound alike, but not necesssarily
what that sound is.
 
        -  What we know of Elizabethan pronunciation.  The best source for this
information is the systems of spelling proposed by the orthographic reformers
of the period and other compelling evidence is found in the songs of the time.
Of course we can't assume that Shakespeare's pronunciation matched the standard
pronunciation of the time in all cases.
 
We surely can't assume that foreign names and words are pronounced according to
the foreign standard.  The English are notorious for their determination to
give a proper British pronunciation to all foreign words.
 
Please don't rely on Cicely Berry's verse chapter.  It is astonishingly
misinformed.  (If you want to see my review of the book, which is otherwise
very good, e-mail a request.)
 
When we have studied the evidence listed above, we can make reliable judgements
on the number of syllables and the relative emphasis of syllables.  We are much
less certain about vowel sounds.
 
We can't be sure whether the "ch" in Petruchio is "ch" or "k" (though "k" is
the runaway favorite in our theatres).  But we can be certain that it is a
three-syllable name (puh-TROO-kyoh).  It's clear that Shakespeare's habit was
to make the IO endings of the Italianate names one syllable in every case
except when the name is used as the last word in a verse line, in which cases
he usually provides a stronger line ending by giving the IO two syllables.
 
This is an example of what I call the LAST-WORD VARIATION.  It is one of
Willy's favorite techniques.  There are hundreds of words which are
consistently one syllable longer when they end the line and never at other
times.  (Check out the ION endings, for example.)
 
The same is true of the EO endings as in ROMEO.  It offends me to the quick to
hear the name consistently pronounced RO-mee=OH which destroys any verse line
in which it appears.  It's ROHM-yoh, except when it appears at the end of a
verse line.   By the way, it is JOOL-yeht in every case except at the line
ends.
 
The evidence about Kate is not so compelling but the rhymes are persuasive (and
yes, cates is likely CATS).  I am convinced that it must rhyme with CAT.  That
crucial line about household cats is just gibberish unless she is Cat.  Cat, by
the way, is the "logical" pronunciation; why would we have CAT-uh-REE-nuh,
CAT-uh-RIHN, and CAT-rihn, and then shift to KAYT?  I have used the CAT
pronunciation in three productions of the show I directed and it flies
beautifully.  Puns jump out; the cozy familiarity, almost impudence, of
Petruchio's use of it, is very winning.  I've never had an audience member
comment on it which I take to mean that it fits so well that it seems right to
listeners.
 
JAQUES:  must be JAY-kweez.  Just check the scansion.  It can't be otherwise.
We may love Shakespeare's use of the jakes-jokes but the availability of the
pun is not evidential.
 
Someday I'll post a list of the 50 Shakespearean names most often
mispronounced.
 
Sorry this is so long.  I have a soapbox problem.
 
Roger Gross
 
(7)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Bill Grantham <
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Date:           Friday, 3 Mar 1995 17:03:52 -0800
Subject: 6.0155  Re: Pronunciation
Comment:        Re: SHK 6.0155  Re: Pronunciation
 
What about Macbeth?  I've long assumed -- on no particular authority, it must
be added -- that the name was pronounced Macbeeth, for two reasons:
 
1. I take Macheath in the Beggar's Opera to be a joke at Shakespeare's expense.
 
2. The modern related Scottish surname, Beith, is pronounced Beeth.
 
Does anybody have a more reliable idea of how it's pronounced?
 
Bill Grantham

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