Friday, May 6, 2011

How Linguists Read Shakespeare

Viëtor, Wilhelm. Shakespeare's pronunciation: A Shakespeare Reader in the Old Spelling and with a Phonetic Transcription. New York: Lemcke & Buechner, 1906.
Some study characterization. Some are interested in how the plays reveal the history of which they are part.

Others enjoy the plots. Still others study scansion and poetry.

And there are those who spend time thinking about what happens when the plays are made into films.

And those who are deeply into linguistics study all sorts of things about the ways words were pronounced during Shakespeare's day and how that pronunciation has changed.

I ran across this book—published in 1906—and thought I'd share it with you. It contains selections of famous speeches from a number of plays. The left-hand side has the original spelling of the play, and the right-hand side writes it all out phonetically (or, if you prefer, foe-net-tick-al-lee). The image above offers the opening lines of Twelfth Night. Linguists everywhere, enjoy!
Click below to purchase the book from
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Bardfilm is normally written as one word, though it can also be found under a search for "Bard Film Blog." Bardfilm is a Shakespeare blog (admittedly, one of many Shakespeare blogs), and it is dedicated to commentary on films (Shakespeare movies, The Shakespeare Movie, Shakespeare on television, Shakespeare at the cinema), plays, and other matter related to Shakespeare (allusions to Shakespeare in pop culture, quotes from Shakespeare in popular culture, quotations that come from Shakespeare, et cetera).

Unless otherwise indicated, quotations from Shakespeare's works are from the following edition:
Shakespeare, William. The Riverside Shakespeare. 2nd ed. Gen. ed. G. Blakemore Evans. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1997.
All material original to this blog is copyrighted: Copyright 2008-2016 (and into perpetuity thereafter) by Keith Jones.

The very instant that I saw you did / My heart fly to your service; there resides, / To make me slave to it; and, for your sake, / Am I this patient [b]log-man.

—The Tempest