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Home :: Archive :: 2009 :: June ::
Shakespearean Rhymes?
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 20.0286  Friday, 7 June 2009

[1] From:   Brian Willis <
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     Date:   Sunday, 31 May 2009 20:57:48 -0700 (PDT)
     Subj:   Re: SHK 20.0274 Shakespearean Rhymes?

[2] From:   Annie Martirosyan <
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     Date:   Monday, 1 Jun 2009 21:13:21 +0500
     Subj:   Re: SHK 20.0274 Shakespearean Rhymes?


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:       Brian Willis <
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Date:       Sunday, 31 May 2009 20:57:48 -0700 (PDT)
Subject: 20.0274 Shakespearean Rhymes?
Comment:    Re: SHK 20.0274 Shakespearean Rhymes?

Having spent a considerable amount of time researching this, the answer 
is far from simple or decisive. The pronunciation of the English 
language was undergoing a major shift during this period, which 
linguists call the Great Vowel Shift. That Shift is far from defined 
beyond some general understandings.

I suspect that David Crystal might post on this, since his work would be 
a great resource to consult, but if I could assert a few of my own less 
authoritative observations:

The dialects of Shakespeare's company was varied and most likely a 
combination of various "regional" sounds. (In my own work, I have argued 
that our modern obsession with the pressure for Shakespeare's heroes to 
sound RP is a twentieth-century phenomenon and not as widespread as 
commonly assumed in theatrical history).

Shakespeare's writing of rhymes surely reflects that fact.

The period saw an emergence of the diphthong as we currently understand 
it, so that words like "nail", "pail", "hail", and "houl" such as in 
your excerpt would have stimulated the auditor's hearing as powerful and 
bold, strong words.

Words that rhyme in Shakespeare's work, but not our own, such as "love" 
and "prove" would most likely have sounded flattened to our ears in 
their rhyming, like a stereotypical regional sound.

Although there is fantastic work still to be done in this field 
regarding Shakespeare's writing, these uses can be argued and debated, 
so my own observations, based on an amalgamation of linguists' writings, 
is far from definitive and open to debate.

Brian Willis

[2]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:       Annie Martirosyan <
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 >
Date:       Monday, 1 Jun 2009 21:13:21 +0500
Subject: 20.0274 Shakespearean Rhymes?
Comment:    Re: SHK 20.0274 Shakespearean Rhymes?

Yes, Professor David Crystal has supervised the staging of "Romeo and 
Juliet" and "Troilus and Cressida" in original pronunciation at Globe in 
2004 and 2005 respectively. You can find some of his transcriptions and 
original pronunciation recordings on his website 
www.theshakespeareportal.com or directly at www.pronouncingshakespeare.com.

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