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Shakespeare: Original Pronunciation

My profound thanks to Jennifer Hubbard (writerjenn) for sending this video my way. In this presentation made available by Open University, father and son actor/scholars explain and demonstrate what Shakespeare's plays sounded like in Shakespeare's time. That is, they are fans of "op" or "original pronunciation", and are intent on sharing it with the world.

Anyone who's read enough Shakespeare knows that there are words that obviously rhymed back in Shakespeare's time that no longer do, e.g., "proved" and "loved" at the end of Sonnet 116, which I've shared here several times before, including here. These guys tell you that loved was essentially the same as today, and proved is what moved, but perhaps both words were a slightly different from today but the same as each other vowel sound back then.

Anyhow, they close their video with a bit from As You Like It, in which the doleful Jaques returns from the forest, where he has met the fool, Touchstone. He arrives in a merry mood and shares a story about the fool talking about time. Only, as you will see if you watch the entire video, the word "hour" was pronounced (at that time) "ore", just the same as the word "whore" was pronounced. Therefore, this becomes a pun about both time and about sex. Additionally, and though they don't mention it in the video, the words "ripe and ripe" sound remarkably like "rape and rape", and "rot and rot" like "rut and rut", again making it both a profound observation about time (the high-brow take, about aging) and an obscene observation about men and sex. And the one about sex is a double pun, as rot and rut are interchangeable here, but also "rot" could refer to venereal disease.

Here are the lines from As You Like It, Act II, Scene 7:

Thus we may see,' quoth he, 'how the world wags:
'Tis but an hour ago since it was nine,
And after one hour more 'twill be eleven;
And so, from hour to hour, we ripe and ripe,
And then, from hour to hour, we rot and rot;
And thereby hangs a tale.' When I did hear
The motley fool thus moral on the time,
My lungs began to crow like chanticleer,
That fools should be so deep-contemplative,
And I did laugh sans intermission
An hour by his dial.




Hope you enjoy this as much as I did!




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