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Pronouncing Shakespeare

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 (ISBN-13: 9780511112133 | ISBN-10: 0511112130)

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  • Printed version published April 2005
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How did Shakespeare's plays sound when they were originally performed? How can we know, and could the original pronunciation ever be recreated? For three days in June 2004 Shakespeare's Globe presented their production of Romeo and Juliet in original, Shakespearian pronunciation. In an unusual blend of autobiography, narrative, and academic content, reflecting the unique nature of the experience, this 2005 book by David Crystal recounts the first attempt in over 50 years to mount a full-length Shakespeare play in original pronunciation. Crystal begins by discussing the Globe theatre's approach to 'original practices', which has dealt with all aspects of Elizabethan stagecraft - except pronunciation. A large section is devoted to the nature of the Early Modern English sound system. There are reports of how the actors coped with the task of learning the pronunciation, how it affected their performances and how the audiences reacted.

• An unprecedented exercise in applying linguistics • Describes a special moment in theatre history • A rare bridge between linguistic, literary, and theatre studies


Preface; Prologue Tim Carroll; 1. Idea; 2. Proposal; 3. Evidence; 4. Rehearsal; 5. Performance; 6. Consequences; Epilogue; Appendix 1. The EME sound system; Appendix 2. Transcription sample; Appendix 3. Audio-visual aids.


'Crystal presents a clear and lively story that will engage and carry along even the most phonetically uninformed reader … a thoughtful and inspiring model.' Around the Globe

'… an engaging, unbuttoned style … at its core is a masterclass in the rudiments of OP, a potentially dull topic that Crystal makes absorbing.' The Times Higher Education Supplement

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