I’ve just read the news that The British Library is releasing a CD with excerpts from The Bard’s poems and plays in the original pronunciation. Apparently this is the first commercially available recording of Shakespeare as he really sounded.
Over the years there has been a lot of research and I suppose scholars are getting closer and closer to the true voice of the time. The article on the British Library website doesn’t mention how the research is done.
Years ago I attended a live reading of what was supposed to be Shakespearean pronunciation. It sounded odd but was understandable. The way the plays sound has undoubtedly changed several times over the centuries – what seems odd today may be common tomorrow.
We already have ‘authentic’ performances of old music. Perhaps in the future there’ll be a movement towards ‘authentic speech’ productions of plays.
I am definitely going to buy the CD (available from the British Library Shop); I’m a sucker for any unusual literary items.
The picture is a public domain one from Wikimedia Commons.