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Home :: Archive :: 1997 :: June ::
Re: Accents and Pronunciation
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 8.0702.  Tuesday, 24 June 1997.

[1]     From:   Keith Ghormley <
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        Date:   Monday, 23 Jun 1997 07:07:14 -0500
        Subj:   Re: SHK 8.0698  Re: Accents and Pronunciation

[2]     From:   Roy Flannagan <
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        Date:   Monday, 23 Jun 1997 08:41:43 -0400
        Subj:   Re: SHK 8.0698  Re: Accents and Pronunciation

[3]     From:   Andrew Murphy <
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        Date:   Monday, 23 Jun 97 13:13:37 BST
        Subj:   Re: SHK 8.0698 Re: Accents and Pronunciation

[4]     From:   David Evett <R0870%
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        Date:   Monday, 23 Jun 1997 12:26 ET
        Subj:   SHK 8.0698  Re: Accents and Pron

[5]     From:   Lisa Hopkins <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 24 Jun 97 10:21:00 0BS
        Subj:   Accents

[6]     From:   David Evett <R0870%
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        Date:   Monday, 23 Jun 1997 11:23 ET
        Subj:   SHK 8.0677  Re: Pronunciation


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Keith Ghormley <
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Date:           Monday, 23 Jun 1997 07:07:14 -0500
Subject: 8.0698  Re: Accents and Pronunciation
Comment:        Re: SHK 8.0698  Re: Accents and Pronunciation

> What seems to my more interesting is that the enemy speaks a clear and
> undistorted English.  So does the foreigner Othello, and the outsider
> Shylock for other examples. What this says to me is that Shakespeare, if
> not neutral, is at least fair, allowing the "bad guys" to express
> themselves with eloquence.

Paul Scofield's Othello (BBC / Caedmon) speaks with a distinct accent.
Is none of that derived from the text?

Keith Ghormley
Lincoln, Nebraska

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[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Roy Flannagan <
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Date:           Monday, 23 Jun 1997 08:41:43 -0400
Subject: 8.0698  Re: Accents and Pronunciation
Comment:        Re: SHK 8.0698  Re: Accents and Pronunciation

>I'm not sure what he means by "tokenist".  *Henry V* has indeed struck
>me as an example of Shakespeare's use and non-use of accents.  Princess
>Katharine's accented English has to be taken in the context of her
>natural French, and is clearly there to supply some innocent off colour
>humour.

In the hands of excellent actors like Emma Thompson and Geraldine
McEuen, the French-English scenes in *Henry V* come off as very funny,
and not just off-color or token anti-French (different from the tennis
ball joke).  McEuen's pronunciation of words like "elbow" and Emma
Thompson's decent French make the scene between them in the movie very
funny and seemingly true to the play.

Probably the Welsh and even the Scottish accents (King James was
a-coming doon soon) can be rendered sympathetically within the limits of
Elizabethan English ethnocentrism.

What about the malapropism and ignorance displayed in Bottom and
Dogberry? Both are funny, stupid, and lovable.

Roy Flannagan

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Andrew Murphy <
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Date:           Monday, 23 Jun 97 13:13:37 BST
Subject: 8.0698 Re: Accents and Pronunciation
Comment:        Re: SHK 8.0698 Re: Accents and Pronunciation

I would agree with Terry Hawkes' comment on the use of accents in _HV_.
Far from being 'unsubtle and tokenist', the way in which the dialogue of
the three Celtic captains is handled is decidedly complex and is deeply
scored by the colonialist discourse of the time. Fluellen in particular
is very curiously positioned in relation to his use of English. For
anyone interested in this issue, quite a deal has been written on the
colonial context of the scene-especially the portrayal of the Irish
captain (I'm thinking particularly of the work of David Baker & Willy
Maley).

Andrew Murphy

[4]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           David Evett <R0870%
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Date:           Monday, 23 Jun 1997 12:26 ET
Subject: Re: Accents and Pron
Comment:        SHK 8.0698  Re: Accents and Pron

Our discussion of regional and social accents should recognize that
whatever orthography appears in the text only cues actors and others,
though in somewhat different ways.  In the text-as-script, it cues the
actor to do the role in an accent; in the text-as-book, it cues the
reader that the actor did the role in an accent.  Actual theatrical or
imaginative interpretation by either actor or reader (indeed, by
audience member responding to actor-Terence Hawkes is likely to hear any
Fluellen differently than I, whose Welshness is only ancestral) must
arise from all the usual messy and complex interactions of expectation
and experience, in the context of a particular reading or performance of
the whole play, in the context of a whole life, in the context of a
whole society.  That's why (to connect with the thread arising from D.
Lowenstein's questions about Cary Mazer's intriguing approach to *Err*)
the whole issue of intention is so impossible to deal with.  (Why am I
suddenly hearing the bus song that ends with the phrase, "the whole in
the ground"?)  Politics is crucial here.  Remember that the thread got
(re)started with a question about American regional accents.  Directing
*Troilus and Cressida* I asked our Trojans to talk Rebel and our Greeks
to talk Yank; the distinction seemed (and seems still) to pick up a
personal honor/lost cause romanticism present in the play's treatment of
the Trojans, and of course it fed on the historical outcome of our Civil
War.  Similar things might be said about an approach through RP English
and Irish-but the mixture would, I suppose, be far more tendentious and
explosive to a British audience.  For similar reasons I might enjoy an
Appalachian Fluellen but would be less comfortable with a Native
American one-though the latter would be far more politically
interesting.

Dave Evett

[5]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Lisa Hopkins <
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Date:           Tuesday, 24 Jun 97 10:21:00 0BS
Subject:        Accents

I found Syd Kasten's point about Katherine of Aragon possibly retaining
a Spanish accent very interesting.  I once tried to argue (in the Dutch
journal _Folio) that at times in the _Henry VI_ plays the French lords
may be speaking with a French accent, especially in their pronunciation
of proper names.  I felt I was on rather shaky ground, but the idea kept
nagging at me until I'd tried to work it through.

I also thought Terence Hawkes was absolutely right about the importance
of remembering that Fluellen is speaking English in the first place.
For what it's worth, as a Welshwoman myself (though one whose own Welsh
is very basic), I find the representation of Fluellen's 'Winglish'
perfectly acceptable.

Lisa Hopkins
Sheffield Hallam University

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[6]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           David Evett <R0870%
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Date:           Monday, 23 Jun 1997 11:23 ET
Subject: Re: Pronunciation
Comment:        SHK 8.0677  Re: Pronunciation

Northern Broadsides, the North Country one-trunk company directed by
Barrie Rutter, has been performing Shakespeare in broad Yorks to great
applause in the UK and abroad.  Barrie's theory is that the short vowels
and strongly voiced consonants of northern dialects have a vocal energy
and speed that lift the other elements of performance with them. I'd be
interested in comments from list members who have had a chance to
see-and hear-the company perform.

Dave Evett
 

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