Brush up your Shakespeare

 

If you imagine that Shakespeare should be delivered in an accent resembling that of the Queen’s, watch on. It seems if you’d sat in the Globe Theatre in the 16th century, you would have heard something that more closely resembled Pirates of the Caribbean than The King’s Speech.

Loving it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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26 thoughts on “Brush up your Shakespeare

  1. Very interesting! I’d read something about this before, but hearing it makes all the difference. I do wonder whether it’s really as easy to understand, though. Most people have a hard enough time understanding Shakespeare spoken with a modern accent. Having to translate individual words would make it more difficult, I can’t help but think. Although I’d certainly love to see it performed that way!

    I like what he says about being able to make eye contact with the audience. I am extremely lucky here to have a theater-in-the-round within walking distance on campus that’s even more intimate than the Globe. It you sit on the floor or in the front row of seats, you’re so close to the actors that you have to pull your legs in so you don’t trip them!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I remember you have some great theatrical opportunities where you live – sounds wonderful, very authentic to a Tudor or Stuart performance. I’d love to go to the Globe in London or the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse next door https://www.tripadvisor.co.uk/Attraction_Review-g186338-d5999686-Reviews-The_Sam_Wanamaker_Playhouse-London_England.html which is a recreated Stuart playhouse – it has a roof but they perform in candlelight. How amazing would that be?
      I know what you mean about the accent being less clear. Maybe it’s easier for a Brit to get the sense of it as it has a good tinge of our current regional accents and we’re more used to hearing those than anyone outside the UK would be. There’s a fair resemblance to Bristolian in the rolling ‘r’ sounds, so I’d feel right at home 🙂

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      1. I’d love to go to either of those theaters! Definitely on my bucket list. The New Swan is so much smaller, but then, I love that.

        http://newswanshakespeare.com/

        I was thinking more that the word themselves are already difficult to parse — for a lot of Shakespeare, that’s just not the way a modern person would express that, on either side of the pond. And that’s even before he starts getting poetic on you and throwing in puns and centuries’ old cultural references. So you have to first hear and understand what words they’re saying, and then figure out what the heck that combination of words means in this context. Using an unfamiliar accent would make that first step even harder. I’m sure you’re right, that it’s closer to some of the British regional accents, so it would be easier for Brits to hear and understand.

        That said, one of the things I really love about the New Swan theater here is how they make that sometimes-obscure dialogue so very approachable and understandable, mostly by slowing down and acting out what they mean and feel.

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      2. What a great looking space, Joy – intimate for sure, but it must make for a really intense experience. Wonderful.
        Yes, you’re right, performance makes a huge difference so far as understanding is concerned. I remember reading some of the plays when I was a teenager and being so disappointed – I didn’t understand then, that really they’re meant to be seen, not read!

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      3. When I can, I like to watch productions on TV first, with *subtitles*. That way I can watch and read at the same time, and figure out the words. Then when I see the same play in person, I’m more likely to catch more details of what’s going on.

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  2. This was very interesting, but I kept wondering to myself how can they know this? Then lo and behold, the next video that showed in my youtube player when this ended was “What Shakespeare sounded like… and how we know!” I’ll have to watch that one next. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It is fascinating how they pieced together the voices of the time. I think that’s why some of the rhymes don’t quite work to our ear too – because mainstream pronunication has changed so much over 400 years. I love it – less Laurence Olivier and more my next door neighbour! Listen to those rolling ‘r’s – that’s what I hear on the bus every day 🙂 Thanks for reading and watching Walt

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  3. I need to see the Monty Python crew galloping by and John Cleese (as Lancelot) stabbing that Linguistics professor and then getting arrested at the end.

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    1. Ha! Never did get the end of that film. Love it apart from that last scene. Lif of Brian was their height for me – fantastic. And full frontal nudity too – what’s not to like? Thanks Bill

      Liked by 2 people

  4. Good to see the redoubtable David Crystal, two or three of whose books I dip into now and again — what a star he is!

    I trust you’re watching the second series of Ben Elton’s Shakespearean sitcom “Upstart Crow” right now on BBC, Lynn — it has Midlands accents, RP and even a touch of OP in the OTT portrayal of Will’s critic Richard Greene. (It’ll be on i-player too.)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh my word, how have we missed the start of that? We watched the first series but hadn’t seen a trailer for the second. Thanks for letting me know Chris. Yes, it’s a fun swipe at all things Shakespeare.
      I like David Crystal and his son Ben – their work really brings the language to life

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  5. Interesting – they spoke with what we now consider to be a West Country accent – I suppose that part of the country moved on with its language, while we got left behind, since we were so far from the centre of things. Now we, too are losing the accent, because the West Country has become more accessible. Having said that, the young Bristolians that I’ve met have quite strong accents, unlike in North Devon, where it’s hard to distinguish between locals and many of those from outside.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You’re right, there are still some very strong Bristolian accents around. I spent a short while in Suffolk yers ago and while the old people still retained that old country accent, the young people sound more Essex – not the prettiest accent going (sorry to any Essex folk reading!) But here, Brizzle is still going strong and there is a great pride in the accent too with a successful local clothing company selling tee shirts with Bristolian expressions on them https://beastclothing.myshopify.com/collections/t-shirts/brizzle

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      1. You might also see other classics such as ‘cheers drive’ and ‘I loves it I dooze’ – both genuine Brizzle. Nempnett Thrubwell was a Puritan general, fought under Cromwell. Established a sect of extreme Anglicans called the Fettlers 🙂

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      2. Ah, yes. Imagine you’re on a bus and wish to alight at your chosen destination. ‘Cheers drive’ is what a Bristolian might say to thank the person behind the wheel of the bus. Funny they shorten the word driver to ‘drive’ and lengthen the playground equipment slide to ‘slider’. Perverse lot, Brizzletonians 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  6. Wow this is so neat! I never thought of Shakespeare like that but if u think of how much say English has changed from the 1940’s to now u can see how they sound more like the Pirate’s type English accent and it’s so neat how diverse spellings and all this missed puns suddenly become clear in the PA accent. I’d love to see a Shakespeare show down with that accent I think understanding all the words, jokes, puns, etc would be easier. Thanks for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. No thank you! It’s something I honestly didn’t think about until I watched your video. However, when I took to Chaucer in university we did have a teacher play a video/cd of how Chaucer would have sounded at the time it was written. Fascinating stuff although Shakespeare is easier to understand than Chaucer in general 🙂

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      2. Oh, definitely. You can get the gist of these things, but the closer in time they are, the easier they are to understand. I love listening to Old English, such as in Beowulf – some small touchstones to our own English while being wat, way distant. Fascinting how the language has evolved.

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