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Home :: Archive :: 1997 :: June ::
Re: Accents and Pronunciation
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 8.0686.  Thursday, 19 June 1997.

[1]     From:   Jonathan Hope <
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        Date:   Thursday, 19 Jun 1997 11:07:59 +0000 (GMT)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 8.0673  Re: Accents in Shakespeare's Plays/London

[2]     From:   Harry Hill <
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        Date:   Thursday, 19 Jun 1997 08:06:49 +0000 (HELP)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 8.0677 Re: Pronunciation


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Jonathan Hope <
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Date:           Thursday, 19 Jun 1997 11:07:59 +0000 (GMT)
Subject: 8.0673  Re: Accents in Shakespeare's Plays/London
Comment:        Re: SHK 8.0673  Re: Accents in Shakespeare's Plays/London

The thing that strikes me is how *little* explicit comment on accent,
and representation of it there is in Shakespeare.  There are a few very
stereotyped set pieces - but put alongside the constant fascination with
and comment on semantics, there is an absence of accent.

I'm sure Early Modern London was full of different accents, and suspect
the various acting companies were too (one piece of authenticity the
Globe has probably got right) - I also suspect that accents weren't
really such an issue.  If you live in a speech community where the
language is undergoing standardisation, you have a relatively high
tolerance for variation in phonology and syntax.

Jonathan Hope
Middlesex University

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Harry Hill <
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Date:           Thursday, 19 Jun 1997 08:06:49 +0000 (HELP)
Subject: 8.0677 Re: Pronunciation
Comment:        Re: SHK 8.0677 Re: Pronunciation

        Andy White
        Is quite right:
        RP
        and BBC
        can't stir the bowels
        because of their vowels.

That, it strikes me, is the cause of the watery verse-speaking that
seems to have begun at the turn of the century. If we listen to Ben
Greet, Forbes-Robertson and even the early Maurice Evans, our ears are
touched by purer, less diphthongised vowels.

Hearing Arthur Bouchier do some Macbeth reminds us of the effect that a
richly imagined dagger can have on the soul, as the `a' of the word does
not stray from its near verticality. He still uses, as does
Forbes-Robertson, the `meh' for 'my', however.

To listen to Gielgud's `Oh that this too too solid flesh' is to here a
truly RP `o' at the beginning; to hear Burton's is to join in the
exclamation ourselves.

        Harry Hill
 

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