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Home :: Archive :: 1997 :: June ::
Re: Accents and Pronunciation
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 8.0694.  Saturday, 21 June 1997.

[1]     From:   Jonathan Hope <
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        Date:   Friday, 20 Jun 1997 12:47:46 +0000 (GMT)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 8.0691  Re: Accents and Pronunciation

[2]     From:   Gabriel Wasserman <
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        Date:   Friday, 20 Jun 1997 10:05:32 -0400
        Subj:   Re: SHK 8.0691  Re: Accents and Pronunciation


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Jonathan Hope <
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Date:           Friday, 20 Jun 1997 12:47:46 +0000 (GMT)
Subject: 8.0691  Re: Accents and Pronunciation
Comment:        Re: SHK 8.0691  Re: Accents and Pronunciation

Joseph Tate suggests *Henry V* as a play which is 'aware' of the accents
of its characters - in fact this was one of the plays I had in mind when
I said that what treatment of accent there is in Shakespeare tends to be
stereotyped.  I've always found the use of accents in the play unsubtle
and tokenist - and consequently not very interesting.

Jonathan Hope
Middlesex University

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Gabriel Wasserman <
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Date:           Friday, 20 Jun 1997 10:05:32 -0400
Subject: 8.0691  Re: Accents and Pronunciation
Comment:        Re: SHK 8.0691  Re: Accents and Pronunciation

> Anthony Burgess wrote a book, whose name I don't remember, about the
> death of the poet Keats, in which among other things he discussed the
> pronunciation of the poet's name.  He suggested that it should be closer
> to "kates" than to "keets", basing himself on what he perceived as
> Shakespearian pronunciation.  He proposed that this vocalization of
> "ea", persisting today sometimes before the letter "r" (wear, bear tear
> etc.) would illuminate puns otherwise hidden.  One selection he offered
> that sticks in my mind (I am not Shakespearian enough to remember the
> source) goes "love has its reasons" where love is compared to a cake
> with its raisins.
>
> Best wishes,
> Syd Kasten
>

I've always thought that the "correct" Shakespearean pronunciation of
"ea" was "ee", as Horace Howard Furness said many times in his *New
Variorum Shakespeare's.  For example, he exposes J. P. Collier's forgery
in adding of a line in *LLL* on the basis of rhyme.  I don't have the
*New Variorum LLL* right here right now, but I know that the last
syllable in Collier's line had an "ea" rhyming with an "ay" in the
following line. Also, in *MND*, II. ii. 27-34:

        What thou seest when thou dost wake,
        Do it for thy true love take;
        Love and languish for his sake.
        Be it ounce, or cat, or bear,
        Pard, or boar with bristled hair,
        In thy eye that shall appear
        When thou wak'st, it is thy dear:
        Wake whensome vile thing is near.

(Please forgive me for using a modernized text [the Riverside
Shakespeare, 2nd ed.]  'Tis all that I can find right for the moment.)

Furness comments that the last five lines originally rhymed, (pronounced
thus: beer, heer, appeer, deer, neer) but that we need not perform them
in an "original" accent, because now there is a rhyming couplet followed
by a rhyming triplet.

Has Furness been disproven in the past hundred years?

--Gabriel Z. Wasserman

P.S:  Has anyone mentioned this web site yet?:
http://www.resort.com/~banshee/Faire/Language/language.html
 

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