Speak like a Pro: a field guide to Elizabethan English

Speak like a Pro: a field guide to Elizabethan English free pdf ebook was written by Gwendolyn on August 18, 2007 consist of 15 page(s). The pdf file is provided by helenas.org and available on pdfpedia since April 10, 2012.

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Speak like a Pro: a field guide to Elizabethan English pdf




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Speak like a Pro: a field guide to Elizabethan English - page 1
Speak like a Pro: a field guide to Elizabethan English Some of you may be wondering how we could possibly know what the language sounded like more than four hundred years ago. After all, even the venerable eight-track had yet to hit the scene, so recordings of Shakespeare himself muttering over his manuscripts are, in a word, scarce. We may not have sound recordings, but we do have examples of the language in another form - writing. This was a time of explosive creativity, and some of the greatest wordsmiths of the English language were creating some of the most famous works of written art we have today. Much of those works are poetry, and not the freeform Beatnik poetry we've come so familiar with in smoky coffee shops. Elizabethan poets used strict rhyming schemes and crafted poetry that was as much architecture as literature. As scholars were examining the rhymes, they noticed words paired together that just didn't rhyme according to how we would them, and realized that the language must have sounded different. When these strange pairings were compared against each other, patterns emerged - it seemed that words of similar structures were consistently paired. Moreover, the Elizabethan era would have been a haven for those of us not blessed with good spelling. They didn't have spelling rules, and simply spelled words as they sounded. Hooked on Phonics would have made a killing! Basically, we have a really good guess at how they spoke so many years ago. Is it possible we're completely wrong? Sure! But we've got good evidence that we're at least close. Also, there's no way that England had one accent across its whole great nation. In America today, if you go to the four corners of the country, you'll hear people speaking very different versions of English. You can make a good guess at which neighborhood a Londoner grew up in by their accent. Is there any wrong way to speak Elizabethan English? Yes - by not even trying. 1
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Speak like a Pro: a field guide to Elizabethan English - page 2
Sounding Funny Is Fun! (No, really, it's actually a blast) The biggest changes from our modern tongue come in the vowels. You remember kindergarten, right? A-E-I-O-U and Sometimes Y? In the English language, the vowels are the most flexible sounds, bending and morphing around the consonants they are framed with. In Elizabethan English, the vowels are the sounds that are the most different from our modern accent. Some pronunciations stay the same (we love those!) and some change. Let's start at the top. We'll give the letter - or the sound - and examples of how that letter sounds in our modern accent, then explain the differences: Vowels A - cat, hat This version of the a, the short a, is basically the same. It is drawn out a bit, held onto just a little… caaat, haaat. A - father, walking This short a changes to a flat a like in "pant". So father rhymes with rather, walk sounds like whack. A - take, make, stable This long a becomes an eh sound. So take sounds like tek, make sounds like mek, stable like steble. Funny huh? E - head, dead The eh sound of these words becomes an ay or ai sound. So head and dead rhyme with braid. I and Y - lie, die, my, by The long i sound becomes an uh-ee sound. If you say my really really slowly, it sounds like m-ah-ee… instead, we're going to say m-uh-ee. This isn't oi like Yiddish! Lie sounds like l- uh-ee, die sounds like d-uh-ee, my sounds like m-uh-ee, by sounds like b-uh-ee. I - hit The short i stays the same (yay!) and rhymes with it. O - come This one becomes much darker and rounder… almost a u sound. You can almost throw in a uh sound too. So come becomes coom, of becomes uh-oov. U - cup, cut The short u sound combines with the "oo" sound, like "coop". If the short u and the oo sound had babies, that's what the short u should sound like. So cup becomes coop, cut becomes coot. Let's add an R 2
Speak like a Pro: a field guide to Elizabethan English - page 3
The r in Elizabethan English is more exaggerated, a hard r, but isn't quite the pirate "ARRRR!", or a rolled r. It's a consonant you can really chew on… never be afraid to lean on it and draw it out a little. ER - mercy This sound rhymes with air, and the r is emphasized. Mercy becomes maircy, terse sounds like tairce, curse becomes cairse. OR - Lord This takes on a very round mouth shape and the short o is almost an "oo" sound. Lord becomes loord, ford becomes foord. The Diphthong! Diphthongs are not what happens when women wearing low rise jeans and thong underoos sit down. Rather, they are vowel combinations… In modern English, we usually shorten diphthongs to one quick sound… Elizabethan English usually uses both letters. After all, why would you put both in if they weren’t to be used? There is one exception, but that will be pointed out below. AI - fair In this case, both letters are pronounced. The a is a short a and the i is like the Elizabethan i. The r is hard, and a little exaggerated (but not rolled or the pirate rrrrrr). So "fair" becomes fah-ay-err. AY - say Pronounce both letters - so saay-ee. EI - either This is the diphthong exception. It becomes an "ay" sound, so either becomes ayther. OU - mouse Pronounce both letters, so mouse becomes muh-oose. Not "moose"… round out the ou sound and make it darker. House becomes huh-oose. OW - brown This is very similar to the OU - the W is afer all, a double u. Brown becomes bruh-oon. Consonants Most of the consonants stay the same. There are a few, however, that do change. C - precious Modern English has turned the "cious" letter combination into "shun". We're going to turn the c into an s, and then say the rest of the letters. Precious sounds like preh-see-uhs, musician sounds like myu-zih-see-un. G and V - speaking, ever 3
Speak like a Pro: a field guide to Elizabethan English - page 4
The G that appears at the ends of words can be dropped. Likewise, the V in the middle of words can often be dropped as well. This is especially appropriate for lower class characters. Speaking becomes speakin', listening becomes listenin', ever becomes e'er, even becomes e'en. Lower classes might even drop the v in heaven, making hea'en. H - hoop Every H is spoken (think Pygmalion, which was retold as My Fair Lady). Hoop is never oop, but always spoken with the letter H. Hand, heavy, hark, all use the H. K - knight Modern English has turned the leading K in words like knight and knife silent. At this time, it was sometimes spoken, especially by the lower classes. Knight becomes kuh-night, knife becomes kuh-nife. R - art Remember the R from "lord"? Same deal… lean on it a little! Chew on it and enjoy it… R's are very fun to say. Arrrt! (Ok, that's a little piratey) S - compassion The double S, and sometimes single S, has become a sh sound in modern times. However, back in the day it was spoken as a hard s… instead of compashun, we're going to say comp- ah-see-ion, and instead of surely pronounced sherly, it becomes soor-ly. T - righteous Like the S, sometimes a T isn't a T - it's a CH. Nowadays we say richus, but in Elizabethan speak we'd say each letter and get ri-tee-ous. Pastures goes from paschurs to pas-toors. 4
Speak like a Pro: a field guide to Elizabethan English - page 5
No really, how does it sound? Now that you have seen some explanations of pronunciation, let's see it in action. You'll see each entry twice - with normal spelling and with phonetic spelling. Remember that the rules a good guide, but not strict… perhaps you might feel that some words could be pronounced a little different! An extra O in a word indicates a rounder, darker sound, like when used with OR. Good provender, labouring horses would have, good hay and good plenty, plough-oxen do crave; To hale out thy muck, and to plough up thy ground, or else it may hinder thee many a pound. -Thomas Tusser: Five Hundred Points of Good Husbandry, 1557 Goood provender, leh-boour-ing hoorses woould haive, goood hai and goood plenty, plooough-oxen do crave; To hehle oout thuh-ee moock, and to ploough oop thuh-ee groound, or else it mehee hinder thee many a poound. **** Fatal Hemp, which Denmark doth afford, doth furnish us with canvas and with cord. Cables and sails - that winds assisting; either We may acquaint the east and West together. - Sylvester, 1520 Feh-tal Hemp, which Denmaark doth affoord, doth fournish uos with canvas and with coord. Ceh-bles and sehls - that winds assisting; aither We meh-ee acq-ueh-nt the East and West togaither. 5
Speak like a Pro: a field guide to Elizabethan English - page 6
Words words words Ok, great, you have an accent (no, really, with a little practice, you do!). But what to do with it? I'm sure you've come across some Shakespeare at one point or another, and he sure didn't write the way we speak today. Now don't think you've got to be running around talking like the Bard. That man was very likely the biggest genius of the English language, and he was writing for the purpose of entertainment - he was deliberately twisting and turning the words in the most creative ways he could. He certainly wasn't walking down the street talking like his characters did! Use his material as inspiration, not a road map. Also, don't think you've got to learn this all in one shot. It comes with time, and practice. You've got to speak it - annoy your household by yammering at them in your new accent and with your new words. Pick a few of the sounds and a few of the words to start with, and mix those into your speech - just a few easy changes can turn ordinary speak into extraordinary magic for our audience. To Start and Stop a Conversation Greetings and goodbyes were very important in Elizabethan society. The culture was driven by class structure and community, and taking time to say hello and goodbye was critical social encounters. However, they used a few different words and phrases - but they're easy to learn. If you want to say… Good morning Good morning Good day (or morning, afternoon, evening) Good day (or morning, afternoon, evening) Good afternoon or evening Glad to see you! How are you doing? You can use: Give you good morning Good morrow God give you a good day Good day; Good den Good even; Good e'en Well met! How now? Or if you want to say… See you soon! Be well Be well You can use I shall see you anon God save you, God keep you Fare you well 6
Speak like a Pro: a field guide to Elizabethan English - page 7
Title me this, Batman! Class structure was much more important to Elizabethan society than in our society today. Everyone was very aware on what rung of the social ladder they were on, and addressing people around them with the proper title was important. When addressing someone, phrase their title with a bit of thought. Make sure you refer to them with the proper respect to their station, gender, and age. Of course, by referring to someone by a title above or below their station, or favorably to their age, that title can be either flattery or an insult. Calling a middle aged woman by a young woman's title can certainly win favor, and conversely, calling a maid a crone can be quite the dig! For the Men Folk: When you're talking to… Nobility, Church Bishops, Important Officials You can use my lord(s), good my lord(s), your worship, noble sir(s), good gentles (for more than one person) sir, good sir, Well met sir, Good day sir, Master, Goodman (used like Mister) Father, Gaffer (grandfather) Good day, my fine lads young lad, little sir, little master Master carpenter, Master musician Middle Class Craftsman and Merchants, Yeoman farmers, Peasants An older peasant A younger man, or close friend A young boy When talking to someone with an obvious profession When you want to insult a man Somewhat rude, and obviously condescending You hate the man, and wouldn't mind a fight You can say Fellow Sirrah For the ladies: If you want to say… The Queen Noblewomen Middle class an Yeomen wives You can use Your Majesty, Your Grace, Your Most Gracious Majesty my lady, noble lady, noble madam, good my lady mistress, dear mistress, fair mistress, sweet mistress (mistress is a polite title) mistress, dear mistress, fair mistress, sweet mistress (mistress is a polite title), fair wench, dear wench, sweet wench (wench just means girl and wasn't insulting) Mother, Gammer (grandmother) little lady, little mistress, lass, sweet lass, little wench, pretty maid Good weaver, good spinner Peasants An older peasant woman A young girl Using their profession 7
Speak like a Pro: a field guide to Elizabethan English - page 8
Between Hello and Goodbye Once you've greeted someone, you presumably want to do more than say good bye (well, usually… sometimes all you want to say is goodbye!). There are all sorts of commonly used words and phrases that you can mix into your language to really take your speech back a few hundred years! Remember that just a few easy words mixed into your speech can really transform what you say to something beatifically archaic. Some of the things we say every day have translations, and learning a few of those translations shifts your everyday speech into a different era. Please An it pleases you (or thee) (an is an archaic form of "if") I pray you (or thee), Prithee (short for pray thee), Pray Thank you God grant you Mercy, Grant you Mercy, Grammercy Many good thanks, many and hearty thankings God yield (or God 'ild) you or thee Yesses an Noes We say yes and no every day, in all sorts of situations. Our modern words "yes" and "no" were used back then, but why not opt for the more exciting Elizabethan versions? For the word yes, try aye (rhymes with eye) or yea (rhymes with kay, like "ok"). Examples: Yea, I did get me to the ale house, but I did not see thee there. Nay, thine pig is not the fattest! But mine were the fattest, yea! I think, I guess, I daresay - I trow (means believe), I think me, Methinks I kid you not! The words "sooth" and "troth" meant truth, so you could say: In sooth, forsooth, in good sooth, by my troth, in troth Verily, surely, indeed (means truthfully) Marry (by Saint Mary) I vouchsafe (I assure that this is true) Ok - Good now, good You know? - Trow you, Know you, Knowest thou 8
Speak like a Pro: a field guide to Elizabethan English - page 9
Coming through, excuse me, pardon I cry you mercy, I crave your pardon, pray pardon Maybe, Perhaps - Mayhap, Belike, Perchance, Peradventure No way! Really? Go to! Is it even so? Were it even so? E'en so? For sooth? In sooth? Wow! Sweet! Awesome! Marry (By Saint Mary), Now by my faith! I'faith! (short for In faith) Oh no! Too bad! God-a-mercy (God have mercy), God's me!, Od's me! (God save me), Alas, Well a day Cursing Yes, Elizabethans cursed too. Men cursed more then women, and when women cursed, they tended to be a bit more genteel. Some exclamations are: Alack! Alackaday! Alas! Fie! Fie me! Out upon it! Now, a word about Fie. There is another word in our modern language starting with the same letter… you all know the word of which I speak. Fie is not That Word! Fie can be used in the same context but it does not mean the same thing… Fie is Latin for "faith" (any of you recognize the term Semper Fi?). That Word is not appropriate for faire. As a note, That Word was used, but it was not naughty, and was a simple verb. If you should find yourself needing to use a word that means the same thing, try swive. It is also not a naughty word. Am I here, or there? Here, there, and over there have alternatives. Here, where you are, is hither. There, close by, is thither. Over there, is yon. Way over there is yonder. For example: Bring yon barrel, the barrel from yonder town, hither. Means: Bring that barrel over there, the barrel from that distant town, over here. 9
Speak like a Pro: a field guide to Elizabethan English - page 10
How words work together - grammar and syntax Elizabethans had a very loose way of speaking, especially peasants. Grammar relates to what words mean, and their proper usage, and syntax relates to how words are strung together. The great thing about Elizabethan grammar and syntax is that it is easy, because it's a little lazy. I do love the way you do that! You can throw do (or did) before all the verbs you use. For example: I do walk me down the road e'ry mornin' for me health. I did scold Misstress Mary for bein' late. To be, or not to be? The verb "to be" can be used and abused in many different ways… it's one of the more common verbs, in all it's forms, so it experienced the most alteration and general misuse. Furthermore, past and present tense was used rather loosely. For example: Those men about the well all be peasants. I were walking down the road. (This can mean either, "I am walking down the road" or "I was walking down the road".) The 'ed', sort of like the id, but not. To make a word past tense, Elizabethans added "ed" just like we do today. They also changed the spelling of words to indicate past tense (instead of speak, you can use "spoke" or "spake" - as in, "He spake a great deal last e'en about his flock.") The "ed" was often fully pronounced, instead of today's modern convention of tacking a quick "d" sound at the end of a word. So walked sounds like walk-ed. When one is not enough. Aside from adding an "s" to the end of a word to make it plural, Elizabethans added "n". This was a hold over from earlier Old English. So house could be either housen or houses. You may recognize some words we still When it's more better, don't not do it! A superlative is a word that expresses degrees… for example, when something is more or less than something else. We're taught early on that things can't be "more better", which is an example of a double superlative. A negative is a word that the dictionary unhelpfully defines as "expressing, containing, or consisting of a negation" - however I think we all know what one is. We also know we're not supposed to double them up, turning them into the dreaded double negative. Elizabethans, however, had no fear of doubling either the superlative or the negative, especially if they were lower class. Ergo, we get to say all those gems our school teacher taught out of us: That goose girl does not have no sense. 10
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