The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 23.0247  Friday, 15 June 2012


From:        John Briggs <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>

Date:         June14, 2012 4:47:17 PM EDT

Subject:     Original Pronunciation (or, Shakespeare in Mummerset)


[I should really be posting this on September 19, which is International Talk Like A Pirate Day]


I don’t think this has been previously mentioned here: earlier this year, the British Library released a CD: “Shakespeare’s Original Pronunciation: Speeches and Scenes performed as Shakespeare would have heard them”. (That “would have” might not be the correct tense . . . )


This is the latest development in the “Original Pronunciation” movement, which is making steady (if painfully slow) progress (Shakespere’s Globe have been noticeably reluctant) – young people are apparently quite enthusiastic (but pirates are cool . . . ) Perhaps inevitably, this CD is a Crystal family production, with Ben Crystal taking the leading part (David Crystal has a bit part as the Fourth Plebeian in Julius Caesar, Act 3.)


This is essential listening (American listeners may be baffled by track 1, which is Sonnet 116 “in modern English”) – and it is available from Amazon.


I have to confess that I was slightly underwhelmed - I thought I heard more emphasis on accent (a generalised Mummerset) than on pronunciation. There is one glorious inauthenticity – the female parts are taken by women rather than by boys (but that is a whole other can of worms . . . )


John Briggs


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