How Were Shakespeare's Plays REALLY Pronounced In His Time?

How Were Shakespeare's Plays REALLY Pronounced In His Time?

It involves seeing the specific time period when English would have been spoken.

We usually think of Shakespeare's plays, such as "Romeo and Juliet" and "A Midsummer Night's Dreams," being narrated in what we would typically hear as British accents. However, it may not have always been like this. It is important to note that during Shakespeare's time, there was a transition from Middle English in the 14th century to the English that we know as Modern English. This is why the English Shakespeare spoke is referred to as Early Modern English. This time period in English language history was called the Great Vowel Shift. There were Middle English words like wyfe [wee-fuh] that dropped the phonetics of the "e" endings, used by Geoffrey Chaucer in the "Canterbury Tales" in Middle English, and became pronounced [weyef] during this transitional period.

There is a British linguist by the name of David Crystal who has been setting out to reconstruct the Shakespearean dialect, in cooperation with the University of Kansas. He has been an important scholar in the reconstruction of Shakespeare's Early Modern English. His son, Shakespearean actor Ben Crystal, described the Original Pronunciation as having an "earthy sound" that can speed the performance.

The most important clue originates from the audience members transcribing the plays in their best phonetic spelling and the words on Shakespeare's grave. Understanding how words were spoken means understanding how they were written or, in the case of the printing press, published. Prior to the introduction of the printing press in 1476 by William Caxton, Middle English did not have standardization. The investment into ink and leaden type effected how punctuations and the amount of "e"s would be needed, which ultimately altered the grammar into what was called Early Modern English. Although Latin and French were the languages of prestige in England, English became published more until England became independent of the Latin-using Catholic Church in 1536 when Early Modern English developed.

Another clue is the way, by our own Modern English perspective, the lines in Shakespeare's plays do not seem to rhyme, such as words like "eye" and "company." At the ends of both words, they were actually pronounced [uh-ee], so the words were vocalized [uh-ee] and [cump-nuh-ee]. Crystal makes note of grammarian commentaries written at the time about how to pronounce the letters, which syllable was stressed, and which words rhymed, most notably Ben Jonson.

This research would be important in recovering the puns that would have brought a chuckle from the Globe Theater audience. An example of such a line comes from Shakespeare's play "Julius Caesar" where Cassius says, "Now it is Rome indeed and room enough, when there is in it but one man." The word "Rome," in Early Modern English, was pronounced [room], which does make a significant distinction between the other word "room." This would create a ripple effect into how Shakespeare is taught and quoted in American schools and universities. By reconstructing the Shakespearean dialect means a better understanding of his plays through a Modern English translation.

There are also remnants of Early Modern English found in regional dialects of English, either in England proper or in Wales, Ireland, Canada, and even here in the United States. What I found interesting was when Crystal mentioned that the same Early Modern English that Shakespeare spoke was brought into American through the Mayflower by the Pilgrims.

It is a sign that Shakespeare is more relevant to American literary identity than we might expect. It is also another reason why this research is important, as it no longer associates Shakespeare's works with the elitist posh that is spoken, rather with the inheritors of the dialect spoken at the time. It makes his works more relevant and well-connected to English-speaking people around the world and elevates Shakespeare as not another old, privileged White man, but as one of the innovators of the English language.

Cover Image Credit: Scholar Spotlight: David Crystal

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10 Ways To Be The Girl Every Guy Wants

A comprehensive do-it-yourself guide to being the girl every guy wants.

1. Smile all the time.

Guys want to be with girls who are always happy. Men get severely uncomfortable when all the women around them are not Cheshire cat level elated all the fucking time. Why are you mad? Why do you look so pissed? Are you defective? Autopilot your brain to borderline creepy giddiness before men get the idea that you might actually be capable of a full range of human emotion.

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Men want women to be smart, but never smarter than them. Don’t know or say anything too much about anything specifically – except sports.

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How many burgers can you fit in your mouth at once? Better, even, how many hotdogs? Have the appetite of a grizzly bear, but eat like a cute tiny rabbit, or Kate Upton faking an orgasm. Oh, and never, ever get above a size 4.

4. Play video games.

No guy can resist a girl who loves to play video games (in her underwear). Fifa, 2K, Smash, Kart – know them all. If you can’t at least beat his worst friend at his favorite game, you’re not a keeper.

5. Love beer.

If you can’t throw ‘em back like one of the guys, you’re not wifey. Yeah, that Norwegian IPA no one's ever fucking heard of? You got it. Bud Light? Sure. Fat Tire? You love that shit. Feel free to let out that beer burp while you’re at it, but the burp you’d imagine a Japanese dwarf squirrel would let out after eating rainbows. Oh, and don’t forget, size 4.

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Ah, quirks. The things that make people unique. The things that make people, people. You must have at least three of these but no more than five. Think relatable Stepford Wife.

9. Be hot.

This is potentially the most important, and luckily I don’t need to tell you how this works. Look at anything. Anywhere. That ever existed.

10. Never, ever get mad.

The worst thing you can do as a woman is challenge a man’s authority. Don’t talk back. Don’t think. Don’t have expectations. Sit. Roll over. Hold the bark.


And finally, in the spirit of strong conclusions and remarkably appropriate GIFs:

Cover Image Credit: Tumblr

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15 Thing Only Early 2000's Kids Will Understand

"Get connected for free, with education connection"


This is it early 2000's babies, a compilation finally made for you. This list is loaded with things that will make you swoon with nostalgia.

1. Not being accepted by the late 90's kids.


Contrary to what one may think, late 90's and early 00's kids had the same childhood, but whenever a 00's kid says they remember something on an "only 90's kids will understand" post they are ridiculed.

2. Fortune tellers.


Every day in elementary school you would whip one of these bad boys out of your desk, and proceed to tell all of your classmates what lifestyle they were going to live and who they were going to marry.


You could never read this book past 8 o'clock at night out of fear that your beloved pet rabbit would come after you.

4. Silly bands.

You vividly remember begging your parents to buy you $10 worth of cheap rubber bands that vaguely resembles the shape of an everyday object.

5. Parachutes.

The joy and excitement that washed over you whenever you saw the gym teacher pull out the huge rainbow parachute. The adrenaline that pumped through your veins whenever your gym teacher tells you the pull the chute under you and sit to make a huge "fort".

6. Putty Erasers

You always bought one whenever there was a school store.

7. iPod shuffle.

The smallest, least technological iPpd apple has made, made you the coolest kid at the bus stop.

8. "Education Connection"

You knew EVERY wood to the "Education Connection" commercials. Every. Single.Word.

9. " The Naked Brothers Band"

The "Naked Brothers Band" had a short run on Nickelodeon and wrote some absolute bangers including, "Crazy Car' and "I Don't Wanna Go To School"

10. Dance Dance Revolution

This one video game caused so many sibling, friend, and parent rivalries. This is also where you learned all of your super sick dance moves.

11. Tamagotchi

Going to school with fear of your Tamagotchi dying while you were away was your biggest worry.

12. Gym Scooters

You, or somebody you know most likely broke or jammed their finger on one of these bad boys, but it was worth it.

13. Scholastic book fairs

Begging your parents for money to buy a new book, and then actually spending it on pens, pencils, erasers, and posters.


Who knew that putting yogurt in a plastic tube made it taste so much better?

15. Slap Bracelets

Your school probably banned these for being "too dangerous".

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