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Home :: Archive :: 2000 :: September ::
Re: Use of Dialect
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 11.1801  Monday, 25 September 2000.

[1]     From:   David Evett <
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        Date:   Friday, 22 Sep 2000 14:36:45 -0400
        Subj:   Re: SHK 11.1787 Re: Use of Dialect

[2]     From:   Nicolas Pullin <
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        Date:   Monday, 25 Sep 2000 09:46:40 -0500
        Subj:   SHK 11.1787 Re: Use of Dialect


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           David Evett <
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Date:           Friday, 22 Sep 2000 14:36:45 -0400
Subject: 11.1787 Re: Use of Dialect
Comment:        Re: SHK 11.1787 Re: Use of Dialect

OED cites 2H4 2.3.24 under meaning 4 for "thick" as an adverb: "With
confused and indistinct articulation; also, with a husky or hoarse
voice."  But a citation from Fuller, "Great talkers discharge too thick
to take alwayes true aim," suggests to me that meaning 3 may also apply:
"In close or rapid succession; frequently; quickly; fast. Often thick
and fast"-it would be consonant (and vowel, too) with Hotspur's
impulsive character (sorry, Terry) that he speak so fast one word
sometimes trips on the heels of another.  The Norton Shakespeare editors
agree.  That's regardless of accent, of course.

Am I right to remember that according to some authorities Owain ap
Gryffyd spent some of his youth as a page at the court of Henry III?  If
so, does Holinshed mention that?  The online Britannica says he studied
law in London, and served with Bolingbroke's forces against Richard II.
All of which suggests that he would have been likely to speak English
with whatever accent was dominant at the court around the turn of the
fifteenth century.  Not that Shakespeare and his actors (nor Steve
Urkowitz and his) need to have felt constrained by history in deciding
how Glendower should speak, or Hotspur, or Hal.  I can certainly imagine
a production that offered a whole bouquet of regional and social
dialects.

Dave Evett

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Nicolas Pullin <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
Date:           Monday, 25 Sep 2000 09:46:40 -0500
Subject: Re: Use of Dialect
Comment:        SHK 11.1787 Re: Use of Dialect

I agree with Bill Godshalk that Hotspur, and therefore his whole
Northumbrian family, could speak with a North country accent.  This
would make sense for the audience and underline the regional prejudices
that are still rife in England--I in fact planned such a reading when
playing the character myself, but as the performances were in America
with an American cast, I had to shelve that particular interpretation.

As for "speaking thick," which, since Olivier and before, has been
interpreted rather arbitrarily as "stuttering" (as Robin Hamilton
mentions), if one cross-references other uses of this phrase in
Shakespeare, it actually means "quickly and densely or tersely", eg. see
Innogen asking for news in Cymbeline (sorry, don't have my CW with me
right now).  Yet I have never seen that particular interpretation either
(that was my final attempt, I must confess, in the above production).
Modern interpretation of "speech defects" have become the norm.
 

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