How did Shakespeare originally sound?

November 29, 2016

An excerpt from an OUPblog article published on 26th November 2016, with information taken from the The Oxford Dictionary of Original Shakespearean Pronunciation.

The Oxford Dictionary of Original Shakespearean Pronunciation

"We all know the classic Shakespearean lines – “To be or not to be,” “O Romeo, Romeo! Wherefore art thou Romeo?” or “Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?” — but how would these famous lines have sounded to Elizabethan audiences? Are we currently misinterpreting the Bard?

Through analysis of spelling variants, rhymes, and current usage, these questions are finally being answered. To modern ears, Shakespearean speech sounds a strangely familiar cross between contemporary Irish and Scottish, with a hint of Yorkshire and Bristolian thrown in. Test your knowledge of common Shakespearean words with our quiz, and listen to recordings of all the phrases – as the Elizabethans’ would have heard them. How well do you really know Shakespeare?"

Discover more: Read the rest of the article on the OUPblog.  


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