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Home :: Archive :: 2003 :: July ::
Re: Hamlet Song
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 14.1382  Monday, 7 July 2003

From:           Jan Jonk <
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Date:           Saturday, 5 Jul 2003 14:38:01 +0200
Subject: Comment:        SHK 14.1351

I would like to make the following remarks in reply to Michael Egan's
question on 'The Mousetrap' (SHK 14.1351):

If Hamlet had rhymed, he would have used the last two sounds of was:
'as"; the 'a', like in 'was', being pronounced with a very low [a] in
Early Modern English. For most scholars this might easily lead to the
word 'ass', which is bad enough for Claudius, but if I  apply Early
Modern English pronunciation properly, I come to the 'r-word', which, in
Shakespeare, is never written out in full (like the modern 'f-word'). I
mean the word 'arse'. (Shakespeare uses a similar reference with the
growling of dogs).  The word Shakespeare does use in Hamlet, 'paiock',
is the same word I think as 'padjak', a word in Dutch of unknown origin,
meaning 'a despicable fellow'.

Jan Jonk

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