[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gPlpphT7n9s?feature=oembed&w=500&h=281]

Have you guys ever paid much attention historical accents and what texts sounded like in their original pronunciation?  

In college, the professor who taught my class on History of English Lit part I had a KILLER Middle English accent.  One day, he read Chaucer out loud to us…and it was like magic.  The poem, which had always felt a bit lumpy and uneven to me, came alive with an earthy, rhythmic musicality that I’d never heard in Chaucer before.  It completely revolutionized my conception of early English literature—and it also brought alive so many puns and jokes that don’t connect for us in modern pronunciation.  Just incredible.

So you can see that phenomenon here.  This is a really cool video where a pair of linguistic historians who work with the Globe Theatre actually demonstrate what Shakespeare sounded like in (one of) the original pronunciations.  The younger guy is kind of soft-spoken, which can make him a bit mumbly and hard to understand, but the pronunciation makes the plays even more beautiful and gripping.  In particular, toward the end, they recite one of Shakespeare’s most famous sonnets—and it puts a chill down my spine.  In the original pronunciation, it’s not just a beautiful literary artifact; it’s living poetry, and it tugs at your heartstrings.


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