more on university names on Language Log

Laurence Horn laurence.horn at YALE.EDU
Fri Sep 15 23:46:33 UTC 2006

At 4:57 PM -0400 9/15/06, Charles Doyle wrote:
>But then, as my colleague John Algeo and others have pointed out,
>the great majority of English speakers alive do NOT live (and have
>ever not lived) in England.
>It annoys me excessively when American Shakespearean actors
>(professional and amateur both) assume they are supposed to
>pronounce Shakespeare's lines with a facsimile of late-20th-century
>British pronunciation--as Shakespeare himself (having ever not lived
>in late-20th-century England) certainly did NOT!

I attended the production of Troilus and Cressida by "Shakespeare's
Globe" in London a year ago  that was advertised as performed with
"original pronunciation", or as near as David Crystal (who assisted
with the production) could tutor the actors to produce.  The program
noted that much of the pronunciation would end up closer to current
U.S. English (in particular, in being rhotic) than to the usual RP,
but it certainly didn't sound that much like varieties of U.S.
English that I'm familiar with, and I suspect the British audience
had even more trouble making it out (a lot of them didn't come back
after intermission) than I did.  It didn't help that there was a lot
of marginally successful cross-gender casting as well, or that some
of the actors had some fairly serious problems with the Crystalline


P.S. Crystal wrote a book in 2005 called _Pronouncing Shakespeare :
the Globe experiment_ (Cambridge U. Press) that details his work on
the previous summer's production of Romeo and Juliet:  cf.
I'm sure it's worth reading, as I suspect the difficulties
encountered in Troilus and Cressida were mostly not of Crystal's

>---- Original message ----
>>Date: Fri, 15 Sep 2006 16:36:56 -0400
>>From: Wilson Gray <hwgray at GMAIL.COM>
>>Subject: Re: more on university names on Language Log
>>BTW, I heard an Englishman on TV refer to himself as standing out
>>inthe U.S. because of his speaking "with an English accent." Many
>>years ago, Jacques Barzun, discussing cultural imperialism, wrote
>>that only Americans had the gall to speak of the English as
>>speaking English with an English accent. It would never occur to a
>>Canadien to describe a Frenchman as speaking French with a French
>The American Dialect Society -

The American Dialect Society -

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