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Home :: Archive :: 1999 :: January ::
Re: Moth, mote, mought, moat
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 10.0126  Saturday, 23 January 1999.

[1]     From:   Carol Barton <
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        Date:   Friday, 22 Jan 1999 08:43:35 EST
        Subj:   Re: SHK 10.0123 Re: Moth, mote, mought, moat

[2]     From:   Judy Kennedy <
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        Date:   Friday, 22 Jan 1999 15:08:22 -0500 (EST)
        Subj:   Re: Moth, mote, mought, moat

[3]     From:   Roger Gross <
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        Date:   Friday, 22 Jan 1999 15:30:07 -0600 (CST)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 10.0116 Re: Moth, mote, mought, moat


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Carol Barton <
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Date:           Friday, 22 Jan 1999 08:43:35 EST
Subject: 10.0123 Re: Moth, mote, mought, moat
Comment:        Re: SHK 10.0123 Re: Moth, mote, mought, moat

>>The pun in the title of Much Ado About Nothing depends on the th as
>>t.  The play is much ado about Noting things.

>I thought the pun was "No-Thing," a slang expression for female
>genitalia.  Cf. Ham,III.ii.

>John requires the audience to first see the play in order to get the
>pun.  My interpretation seems calculated to drag them in.

Both Larry and John are right, of course -- but it is also about noting,
as in penning missives.

And only HALF the potential audience would be motivated by the English
you put on it, Counsel.  The rest of us don't have a thing about
"things."

(Sigh.)

Carol Barton

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Judy Kennedy <
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Date:           Friday, 22 Jan 1999 15:08:22 -0500 (EST)
Subject:        Re: Moth, mote, mought, moat

The first editor to print mote at MND 3.1.162 (Riverside lineation; tln
979) was Richard Grant White, in 1857.  His note with supporting
evidence is long and interesting, and is extensively reproduced by
Furness (New Variorum MND, 1895) at the relevant line.  Furness also
gives a quotation from Ellis, which works against the variant reading;
nevertheless Furness supports White.  The next editor to print mote at
this line is Cuningham (Arden 1905).  Brooks (Arden 1979) prints moth,
but provides a useful note on the question p.3, in the notes to the
Dramatis personae.

See also Holland (MND, Oxford, 1994) note pp.186-7.  Foakes (MND,
Cambridge, 1984) at tln 2112 (Riverside 5.1.318) prints mote for Qq.F
Moth, and in his note (p.129) compares H5 4.1.179: 'wash every Moth
['moath', Q 1600] out of his conscience'.

Besides Cercignani, the curious might wish to consult E. J. Dobson,
_English pronunciation, 1500-1700_, Oxford 1957, 2nd ed 1968.

Judy Kennedy

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[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Roger Gross <
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Date:           Friday, 22 Jan 1999 15:30:07 -0600 (CST)
Subject: 10.0116 Re: Moth, mote, mought, moat
Comment:        Re: SHK 10.0116 Re: Moth, mote, mought, moat

I'd like to quible mildly with those who recommended the major works on
Elizabethan pronunciation as a source of information on Shakespeare's
pronunciation.

They are usefully suggestive of what might be Shakespeare's way but not
sufficient.  The only truly reliable source of information on
Shakespeare's pronunciation is the texts themselves.  Kokeritz was on
the right track, though (like the rest of us) he takes a few wrong
turns.  He understood that the metrical demands of the scripts and the
rhymes and puns tell us most of what we can know about his
pronunciation.

Shakespeare departed from the Elizabethan norms in many ways.
Cercignani is important but not enough.

Kokeritz is still more useful than anyone else re. Shakespeare
specifically.  I hope to displace him someday soon.

Meanwhile, the new work (I'm remembering the title and probably have it
somewhat askew) PRONOUNCING SHAKESPEARE'S WORDs; FROM A TO 'ZOUNDS,
though incomplete and occasionally wrong, is very useful.

Whatever  you do, don't go to Irvine's DICTIONARY OF SHAKESPEAREAN
PROPER NAMES.  Unreliable.

Most of our problems speaking Shakespeare's verse come from our
ignorance of his pronunciation.  Note the similar pattern revealed by
the pun on GOATS/GOTHS in AS YOU LIKE IT which are apparently homophones
or close to it.

Roger Gross
U. of Arkansas
 

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