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How do you pronounce ‘musician’? and ‘whore’?

David Crystal is the world authority on Shakespearian English. Watch, listen, enjoy.

And there’s another one behind…. Here’s a modern English lesson from Robert Jay, QC, of the Leveson Inqiuiry.

https://apps.facebook.com/theguardian/law/video/2012/nov/29/leveson-inquiry-learn-to-speak-like-robert-jay-video

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Comments

  1. Norman, This clip is a gem and a marvelous bit of education in Shakespearean English for a linguistically ignorant bozo like this American. Bravo for including it.

  2. Nicolae Dumitru says:

    But how about playing female parts by males? And the exclusion of women from acting? Wasn’t that an asset at the time?

    • Good point. That was also an aesthetic of Chinese opera when it evolved into the form performed at the Imperial Court in Beijing two centuries later. (Sorry, this comment was totally irrelevant (or almost)- must have been a “senior moment” at this end).

  3. But pronunciation would vary from town to town, region to region. Shakespeare’s accent would have been a Warwickshire accent, which would have been very different from that in London. This is over-simplistic in the extreme.

    • Unless, of course, Shakespeare, being a man of the theatre, picked up a London accent while living there, the way many actors pick up and shed accents.

  4. It's That Steve Again (ITSA) says:

    Very interesting indeed.

    Oi loiks the accent, aarrrh. Remoinds me of The Goon Show where they had a bit of fun with rustic country accents, and also sang the wurzel tree song, in the episode entitled “The Rent Collectors” (Series 7, episode 16).

    My decades old memory of this song is how I just found the episode.

    http://www.thegoonshow.net/scripts_show.asp?title=s07e16_the_rent_collectors

    This is one of those episodes that has to be heard for the humour to work.

    All the Goon Show humour was audile of course. Some of their humour can be gleaned from the scripts alone. But only the audile experience gives the totality of the humour, whether it be sound effects (some of it ground-breaking in their day) or – as in this case – pronounciation. There are some interesting parallels in the grasping of these genres.

    I couldn’t find a freely available audio of this episode or the song, but copying-and-pasting from the script, the wurzel tree song is as follows:

    “Where be that there blackbird to?
    I know where he be.
    He knows I, I knows he,
    He knows I be after he!
    Where be that blackbird to?
    Up that wurzel tree! Hoi! ”

    Of course, per one comment here, in days gone by, accents varied significantly over what we now regard – courtesy of contemporary transportation systems – as short distances. But regardless of contemporary simplifications of bygone eras, if the aim is to educate people, part of the trick is to hook them in. What these folks are doing via the Globe Theatre is nothing less than excellent, aarrrh

  5. OMG, you actually pose THIS question!

    I could draw up a long list of names starting with the artists roster of IMG. ..

  6. Lovely! I also thank you, Norman, for sharing this clip. I hope the certified Brits who read this site won’t have at me, but I shall put this link on my FB page so that my many Renaissance Faire friends in North America can enjoy. The actors among them tend to use an accent very like the OP as a middle-class accent of the time.

    Also agree with MWnyc that Shakespeare likely picked up the London accent. It’s something that actors do.

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