As with any living organism, the English language is growing, evolving and changing. Not only do words come and go, but the accents gradually tweak and are eventually forgotten.
Here is an extremely interesting documentary on the London’s Globe Theatre’s productions of some of Shakespeare’s plays in the Original Pronunciation (OP) rather than the modern Received Pronunciation.
Father and son team David and Ben Crystal discuss how Shakespeare’s plays sound better in OP and many gags and word puns work in the original London accent but not in the modern interpretation.
Linguist David Crystal explains that in some instances, the sense of the text is lost completely when read in a modern accent.
In As You Like It, the lines in Act II Scene 7:
And so, from hour to hour, we ripe and ripe,
And then, from hour to hour, we rot and rot;
These two lines lose all of their meaning when read in today’s pronunciation. However when we know that “ripe” sounded like the modern “rape”and “hour”like the “whore”of Shakespeare’s contemporaries, then the pun is very evident. “The joke is a very, very rude one,”says actor Ben Crystal.
Watch the video to learn more.
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