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Home :: Archive :: 2002 :: April ::
Re: Accents
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 13.1191  Tuesday, 30 April 2002

[1]     From:   Michael Shurgot <
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        Date:   Monday, 29 Apr 2002 08:37:52 -0700
        Subj:   RE: SHK 13.1161 Re: Accents

[2]     From:   Don Bloom <
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        Date:   Monday, 29 Apr 2002 13:02:36 -0500
        Subj:   Re: SHK 13.1161 Re: Accents

[3]     From:   Charles Weinstein <
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        Date:   Monday, 29 Apr 2002 20:32:47 -0400
        Subj:   Accents

[4]     From:   Larry Weiss <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 30 Apr 2002 00:32:22 -0400
        Subj:   Re: SHK 13.1161 Re: Accents


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Michael Shurgot <
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Date:           Monday, 29 Apr 2002 08:37:52 -0700
Subject: 13.1161 Re: Accents
Comment:        RE: SHK 13.1161 Re: Accents

Professor Small raises a valid point which I shall answer briefly, as it
is not really germane to this list-serve. Unlike Ireland, Poland, Italy,
The Ukraine, etc., Africa is a huge continent; in the US, the phrase
"African-American' denotes someone living in the US who is of African
heritage. I would use that phrase if I did not know from which African
nation a black person (or his/her ancestors) emigrated to the US. Hence
the phrase is an attempt to recognize African heritage without knowing a
person's specific nationality.

Cheers,
Michael

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Don Bloom <
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Date:           Monday, 29 Apr 2002 13:02:36 -0500
Subject: 13.1161 Re: Accents
Comment:        Re: SHK 13.1161 Re: Accents

 Terence Hawkes notes,

> For Glendower, the prime necessity is that he and his daughter are able
> to speak the Welsh language. This has nothing to do with speaking
> English in a particular accent. The disturbing eruption of this ancient
> tongue, and the stark challenge it implicitly makes to the
> presuppositions of English is a matter of considerable significance in
> the play, ignored only at great cost.

I am inclined to take this at face value and find it interesting and
appealing, but a little cryptic. Does it refer to the way Glendower,
Hotspur and Mortimer carve up England into three much smaller realms,
one of which would become the Welsh-speaking principality that Edward I
had swallowed? Am I right in assuming that the language is standing for
the people who speak it?

On another related thread, is this in agreement with my long-held belief
that the carving-up of England would have been seen with great horror
and disgust by Shakespeare's contemporaries?

Cheers,
don

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Charles Weinstein <
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Date:           Monday, 29 Apr 2002 20:32:47 -0400
Subject:        Accents

Geralyn Horton writes:  "I saw Pacino's 'critically acclaimed' (some
critics acclaimed, most were at best mixed) RIII at the Theatre Co. of
Boston (late sixties? early seventies?)"

It was the early seventies, Geralyn; I saw it too; and oh my God...the
Keds sneakers!  the basketball hump!  the stretches of sheer numbness
punctuated by equally pointless explosions of rage!  the unmistakable
indicia of a clueless performer trying to elevate his personal
bewilderment into an acting style!  And you're wrong to divide the
critical response into acclamations and reservations.  Some, like the
late Arthur Friedman, were justifiably savage.  For me, that evening
illuminated a phrase of Kingsley Amis' that I have recently been
reminded of, a phrase that expresses so well the natural human reaction
to something stupefyingly bad:  "Real, over-mastering, orgiastic
boredom, and its companion, real hatred."

--Charles Weinstein

[4]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Larry Weiss <
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Date:           Tuesday, 30 Apr 2002 00:32:22 -0400
Subject: 13.1161 Re: Accents
Comment:        Re: SHK 13.1161 Re: Accents

I think it is a capital error to treat RP as if it were an accent.  It
is the un-accent.

An accent identifies the speaker as coming from a particular region,
having a particular ethnicity or belonging to a particular social
class.  It contains the speech habits we learn from our parents and
others whom we first mimic, such as the drawn out vowels of the Southern
U.S. drawl, the overstressed Rs in Scottish brogue, the understressed Rs
in Bostonian, Brooklyn nasality, Jewish rising inflections, Cockney
glottal stops, and so forth.  RP requires the speaker to unlearn these
patterns.  It was devised to assist comprehension of spoken English by
all hearers regardless of their own accents.  As such, it emphasizes the
precise pronunciation of each letter and syllable exactly according to
the phonetic values they are given in standard dictionaries.  That is
the opposite of an accent.

Having said that, it does not follow that it should be used in
performance. Or that it should not be.

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