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Saturday, September 2, 2017

Listen to Shakespeare as His 17th Century Audience Would

The old Globe theatre
As regular readers know, I'm a great fan of Shakespeare, so I found this actor's presentation of the opening lines from Romeo and Juliet as Elizbethans would have heard them absolutely fascinating. When I studied Chaucer in college we read him in Middle English. Listening to my professor recite Chaucer's poetry in Middle English was strange and beautiful. Shakespeare was writing and performing during the transition from Middle English to early modern English. We find him difficult because English continues to evolve and many words are no longer in use. "Language is a living thing," as classicist Gilbert Highet said, "We can feel it changing. Parts of it become old: they drop off and are forgotten. New pieces bud out, spread into leaves, and become big branches, proliferating." Thus it will always be. Since my birth, entire new vocabularies have developed with changes in technology and culture. And so it will be in the future.

Enjoy this sound bite from 17th century London.

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