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Home :: Archive :: 1998 :: May ::
Re: Pronunciation
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 9.0487  Thursday, 21 May 1998.

[1]     From:   David Lindley <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 20 May 1998 16:44:44 GMT
        Subj:   Re: SHK 9.0481  Re: Pronunciation

[2]     From:   Joseph Tate <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 20 May 1998 09:06:10 -0700 (PDT)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 9.0481  Re: Pronunciation

[3]     From:   Ed Taft <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 20 May 1998 13:33:45 -0400 (EDT)
        Subj:   Pronunciation


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           David Lindley <
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Date:           Wednesday, 20 May 1998 16:44:44 GMT
Subject: 9.0481  Re: Pronunciation
Comment:        Re: SHK 9.0481  Re: Pronunciation

I entirely take Jonathan Hope's reservations about the variability of
early modern English accents - and certainly think that, in the context
of public performance before a varied audience, his comments on the
false perception 'authentic' performance could generate carry
considerable force.

But I am also pleased to have some support for the idea that musician's
efforts do actually make a difference - and, in an explicitly
experimental context, I do not see why the same should not be true for
Shakespeare.

If one is going to get into arguments about what the money should be
better spent on, then I think we'd all better keep our heads down!

David Lindley
School of English
University of Leeds

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Joseph Tate <
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Date:           Wednesday, 20 May 1998 09:06:10 -0700 (PDT)
Subject: 9.0481  Re: Pronunciation
Comment:        Re: SHK 9.0481  Re: Pronunciation

Jonathan Hope writes:

> 3)  But let's say a brilliant cast could learn some of the possible
> accents, and were given the time to do so.  What would we get out of
> it?  To most current English speakers, Early Modern reconstructions
> sound like rural accents  (because of the presence of post-vocalic 'r')
> - and carry connotations of low class status, and low intelligence.
> Connotations which certainly wouldn't have been present in the Early
> Modern period. So for all the effort, we'd just end up sending the wrong
> signals to the audience - because the social significations of the
> features of Early Modern English have changed.

The above implies that sonic features of a language are allowed only
semantic functions. Another view (borrowing Derek Attridge's distinction
between semantic and nonsemantic functions of rhythm) might suggest
that, yes, Early Modern English has unwanted social significations
today, but an attempt at Early Modern pronunciation could foreground for
modern audiences a previously unknown range of nonsemantic functions.
For example, the degree of verbal patterning and organization and
meter's pull on our internal and external physiological rhythms might be
more fully experienced with Early Modern pronunciation-I say "might" as
this is speculation. But speculation aside, why let unfortunate
connotations preclude us from at least experimenting with Shakespeare's
language on the stage?

Joseph Tate
Graduate Student
U. of Washington, Seattle

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Ed Taft <
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Date:           Wednesday, 20 May 1998 13:33:45 -0400 (EDT)
Subject:        Pronunciation

Richard Kennedy asks how "Wriothesley" would be pronounced in
Shakespeare's time. I remember being taught by Kenneth Muir many years
ago that the name would be pronounced "Rose-a-lee," and thus makes
possible a pun in the first two lines of Sonnet 1: "from fairest
creatures we desire increase/That thereby beauty's rose might never
die."  But the truth is, I don't know much about Elizabethan
pronunciation. Can Richard or someone else verify that this is true (or
not true)?

--Ed Taft
 

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