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Shakespeare’s Speech Emily Gruber History of the English Language 23 March 2007.

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Presentation on theme: "Shakespeare’s Speech Emily Gruber History of the English Language 23 March 2007."— Presentation transcript:

1 Shakespeare’s Speech Emily Gruber History of the English Language 23 March 2007

2 Early Modern Theater Traveling Companies Traveling Companies The Queen’s Men The Queen’s Men The Theatre and Swan The Theatre and Swan

3 Playscript Conditions Collaboration Collaboration “Foul” and “fair” papers “Foul” and “fair” papers Piracy Piracy Actor revisions Actor revisions Quarto vs. Folio

4 A Midsummer Night’s Dream Written around 1595 or 1596 (around the same time as Shakespeare was probably working on Romeo and Juliet), possibly for a court wedding or for Queen Elizabeth’s celebration of the feast day of St. John; there is no conclusive evidence. Written around 1595 or 1596 (around the same time as Shakespeare was probably working on Romeo and Juliet), possibly for a court wedding or for Queen Elizabeth’s celebration of the feast day of St. John; there is no conclusive evidence. Plotted in multiple layers: the fairy court with Oberon and Titania, the Athenian court with Theseus, Hippolyta and the pairs of lovers, and the ‘rude mechanicals’ putting on the play, including Bottom the weaver. Different registers of language make these different worlds distinct. Plotted in multiple layers: the fairy court with Oberon and Titania, the Athenian court with Theseus, Hippolyta and the pairs of lovers, and the ‘rude mechanicals’ putting on the play, including Bottom the weaver. Different registers of language make these different worlds distinct.

5 Act 5, Scene 1 Enter Piramus. Pyr. Sweet Moone, I thank thee for thy ſ unny beames, I thanke thee Moone, for ſ hining now ſ o bright: For by thy gracious, golden, glittering beames, I tru ſ t to ta ſ te of true ſ t Thisbies ſ ight. But ſ tay: O ſ pight! but marke, poore Knight, What dreadful dole is heere? Eyes do you ſ ee! How can it be! O dainty Ducke: O Deere! Thy mantle good; what ſ taind with blood! Approch you furies fell: O Fates! come, come: Cut thred and thrum, Quaile, cru ſ h, conclude, and quell. Du. This pa ſſ ion, and the death of a deare friend, Would go neere to make a man looke ſ ad. Dut. Be ſ hrew my heart, but I pittie the man. Pir. O wherefore Nature, did' ſ t thou Lions frame? Since lion vilde hath heere deflour'd my deere: Which is: no, no, which was the faire ſ t Dame That liu'd, that lou'd, that like'd, that look'd with cheere. Come teares, confound: Out ſ word, and wound The pap of Piramus: I, that left pap, where heart doth hop; Thus dye I, thus, thus, thus. Now am I dead, now am I fled, my ſ oule is in the sky, Tongue lo ſ e thy light, Moone take thy flight, Now dye, dye, dye, dye, dye Dem. No Die, but an ace for him; for he is but one. Lis. Le ſſ e then an ace man. For he is dead, he is nothing. Du. With the helpe of a Surgeon, he might yet recouer, and proue an A ſſ e. Dut. How chance Moone- ſ hine is gone before? Thisby comes backe, and findes her Louer. Enter Thisby. Duke. She wil finde him by ſ tarre-light. Heere ſ he comes, and her pa ſſ ion ends the play. Dut. Me thinkes ſ hee ſ hould not v ſ e a long one for ſ uch a Piramus: I hope ſ he will be breefe.

6 The Effect of the Great Vowel Shift Because the Great Vowel Shift was in variable progress during Shakespeare’s period of activity, he could take advantage of homophones that we no longer hear—often to make jokes, mainly puns. Many of what we now call “near- rhymes” were also probably due to the GVS—when Shakespeare wrote them, he was likely rhyming perfectly.

7 Things We Don’t Hear Puns on “ace” and “Asse” – during the process of the GVS, these vowels could have been identical; both would probably have sounded like “ass” Puns on “ace” and “Asse” – during the process of the GVS, these vowels could have been identical; both would probably have sounded like “ass” A bunch of rhymes, which are usually played for humor because they no longer sound alike—for example: A bunch of rhymes, which are usually played for humor because they no longer sound alike—for example: “confound” and “wound”: “confound” would probably have sounded like “confoond” “confound” and “wound”: “confound” would probably have sounded like “confoond” “pap” and “hop”: “pap” would probably have sounded like “pop” “pap” and “hop”: “pap” would probably have sounded like “pop”

8 Style Playing with tragedic conventions: Playing with tragedic conventions: Come teares, confound: Out word, and wound Come teares, confound: Out ſ word, and wound The pap of Piramus: I, that left pap, where heart doth hop; Thus dye I, thus, thus, thus. Now am I dead, now am I fled, my oule is in the sky, Now am I dead, now am I fled, my ſ oule is in the sky, Tongue loe thy light, Moone take thy flight, Tongue lo ſ e thy light, Moone take thy flight, Now dye, dye, dye, dye, dye Shakespeare mocks the extended death-scenes that were tragedies’ bread-and-butter, and the often hackeneyed poetry that resulted.

9 Different social registers—compare the heightened verse of the ‘play’ with the spectators’ comments: Different social registers—compare the heightened verse of the ‘play’ with the spectators’ comments: Sweet Moone, I thank thee for thy unny beames, Sweet Moone, I thank thee for thy ſ unny beames, I thanke thee Moone, for hining now o bright: I thanke thee Moone, for ſ hining now ſ o bright: For by thy gracious, golden, glittering beames, I trut to tate of truet Thisbies ight. I tru ſ t to ta ſ te of true ſ t Thisbies ſ ight. But tay: O pight! but marke, poore Knight, But ſ tay: O ſ pight! but marke, poore Knight, What dreadful dole is heere? Eyes do you ee! How can it be! Eyes do you ſ ee! How can it be! O dainty Ducke: O Deere! The first four lines here are in iambic pentameter; the last four alternate between tetrameter and trimeter, all rigidly metrical. Shakespeare also makes heavy use of alliteration and repetition. On the other hand, the spectators use sentences that could pass for normal. If the last two lines of this were spelled as we would recognize the words, they would read: Duke. She will find him by starlight. Here she comes, and her passion ends the play. Dut. Methinks she should not use a long one for such a Pyramus: I hope she will be brief.

10 An Elizabethan “Accent” Kokeritz: we “would be able to understand Shakespeare and Burbage with little effort... Their speech would probably sound like a quaint dialect characterized by more monophthongs and far purer long vowels... a marked quantitative distinction between historically long and short vowels... and not a few curious pronunciations of individual words” Kokeritz: we “would be able to understand Shakespeare and Burbage with little effort... Their speech would probably sound like a quaint dialect characterized by more monophthongs and far purer long vowels... a marked quantitative distinction between historically long and short vowels... and not a few curious pronunciations of individual words” At least one site on Elizabethan English claims “proper Elizabethan is more akin to the speech of backwood communities on the East Coast of the United States”. At least one site on Elizabethan English claims “proper Elizabethan is more akin to the speech of backwood communities on the East Coast of the United States” …Midwest America?

11 Act 2, Scene 1 Oberon: I know a bank where the wild thyme blows, Where oxslips and the nodding violet grows, Quite overcanopied with luscious woodbine, With sweet muskroses and with eglantine. əi no: ə bæŋk hwε:r ðə wəild təim blo:z hwε:r aksl I ps ən ðə nadņ vəilət gro:z kwəit o:vərkænəpid w I ð l٨ ∫əs w U dbəin w I θ swi:t m٨skro:zIz ən w I ð εgləntəin

12 Spelling Inconsistencies: “thanke” vs. “thank”, “Deere” vs. “deare”, “Die” vs. “dye”, “Piramus” vs. “Pyr”(amus) Inconsistencies: “thanke” vs. “thank”, “Deere” vs. “deare”, “Die” vs. “dye”, “Piramus” vs. “Pyr”(amus) Silent e’s still very prevalent: in Pyramus’s first four lines, we see “Moone”, “thanke”, “beames”, “marke”, “poore” Silent e’s still very prevalent: in Pyramus’s first four lines, we see “Moone”, “thanke”, “beames”, “marke”, “poore” Complex vowel spellings for long vowels have not completely been standardized: we see “heere” for “here”, “breefe” for “brief”, “neere” for “near”, “thred” for “thread” but also “teares”, “deare”, and “beames” approaching (or “approch”ing) modern spellings Complex vowel spellings for long vowels have not completely been standardized: we see “heere” for “here”, “breefe” for “brief”, “neere” for “near”, “thred” for “thread” but also “teares”, “deare”, and “beames” approaching (or “approch”ing) modern spellings Very phonetic – “I” for “Aye” Very phonetic – “I” for “Aye” Capitalization used to cue actors to where verbal emphasis should fall Capitalization used to cue actors to where verbal emphasis should fall


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