Tuesday, July 17, 2012

I'm sorry, I don't speak the Queen's English

I am, of course, a Colonial, exiled from the Mother Country across the Pond.  And so there's no expectation that I would speak the English of Good Queen Bess.

Interestingly, Her Majesty Elizabeth II Regina doesn't speak the English of Good Queen Bess, either.

Shakespeare is a lot dirtier than you get from watching Sir Laurence Olivier.  It's much less bloodless, meaning a lot earthier and a lot bloodier.  If you do it right, the original iambic pentameter doesn't always work.  I suspect that's because the Mother Tongue has shifted over the last four centuries.

People in times long past are perhaps not so very different from people today.  Putting Shakespeare on a pedestal does him - and them - a disservice.  Of course, this is all just one minute of the indispensable The History Of English in Ten Minutes:


Old NFO said...

VERY interesting! I 'knew' there was a different pronuciation, but didn't realize how significant it was. Thanks!

aczarnowski said...

That History of English short is fantastic.

chiefjaybob said...

Up yours, Caesar!

Anonymous said...

Shakespeare is a west country accent found in Somerset and Gloustershire and still spoken like that today. Which makes sense as Shakespeare was a West country lad. I used to take holidays down in the Somerset levels. So I'm familiar with it.

Chas S. Clifton said...

It sounds like a West Country accent to me!

Except that I was taught that the "w" in "sword" was pronounced, and if someone struck you with one, you had a "wound," as in the past tense of "to wind."