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Pronouncing Shakespeare

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  • Page extent: 208 pages
  • Size: 198 x 130 mm
  • Weight: 0.34 kg

Library of Congress

  • Dewey number: 822.3/3
  • Dewey version: 22
  • LC Classification: PR3081 .C93 2005
  • LC Subject headings:
    • Shakespeare, William,--1564-1616--Language
    • English language--Early modern, 10-1700--Pronunciation
    • Shakespeare, William,--1564-1616--Stage history--England--London
    • Shakespeare, William,--1564-1616--Stage history--19-
    • Shakespeare, William,--1564-1616.--Romeo and Juliet

Library of Congress Record

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 (ISBN-13: 9780521852135 | ISBN-10: 0521852137)

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Pronouncing Shakespeare: The Globe Experiment

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. This book tells the story of how it happened …

In an unusual blend of autobiography, narrative, and academic content, reflecting the unique nature of the experience, David Crystal recounts the first attempt in over fifty years to mount a full-length Shakespeare play in original pronunciation. The story begins by introducing the Globe theatre and its approach to ‘original practices’, which had dealt with all aspects of Elizabethan stagecraft – except pronunciation. It traces the way the idea developed, from the initial proposal in 2003 through planning and rehearsals to the full-scale production in 2004. A large section is devoted to the nature of the Early Modern English sound system and the evidence for it. Other major sections include reports of how the actors coped with the task of learning the pronunciation, how it affected their performances, and how the audiences reacted.

DAVID CRYSTAL is one of the world’s foremost authorities on language. He is author of the hugely successful Cambridge Encyclopedia of Language (1987; second edition 1997), Cambridge Encyclopedia of the English Language (1995; second edition 2003), and English as a Global Language (1997; second edition 2003). An internationally renowned writer, journal editor, lecturer, and broadcaster, he received an OBE in 1995 for his services to the study and teaching of the English language. His previous work on Shakespeare includes two books written with his actor son, Ben, Shakespeare’s Words (2002) and The Shakespeare Miscellany (2005).

Pronouncing Shakespeare

The Globe Experiment

David Crystal

Cambridge, New York, Melbourne, Madrid, Cape Town, Singapore, São Paulo

Cambridge University Press
The Edinburgh Building, Cambridge, CB2 2RU, UK
Published in the United States of America by Cambridge University Press, New York
Information on this title:

©David Crystal 2005

This book is in copyright. Subject to statutory exception
and to the provisions of relevant collective licensing agreements,
no reproduction of any part may take place without
the written permission of Cambridge University Press.

First published 2005

Printed in the United Kingdom at the University Press, Cambridge

A catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library

ISBN-13 978-0-521-85213-5 hardback

ISBN-10 0-521-85213-7 hardback

Cambridge University Press has no responsibility for the persistence or accuracy of
URLs for external or third-party internet websites referred to in this book, and does not
guarantee that any content on such websites is, or will remain, accurate or appropriate.

To all at Shakespeare’s Globe

For three days in June 2004, Shakespeare’s Globe presented their production of Romeo and Juliet in original, Shakespearian pronunciation. This book tells the story of how it happened.


Prologue by Tim Carrollxv
Appendix 1 Chief distinctive Early Modern English vowels175
Appendix 2 Extracts from the transcription177
Appendix 3 Audio-visual aids181
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