First of all, I apologize for this post being a bit late. I was JUST ABOUT to upload it when the internet at my house cut out. This should not have been a surprise, given all the various technical difficulties in the US yesterday...
Anyways... today's comic deals with one of the more interesting topics in contemporary Shakespeare studies: Original Pronunciation!
O.P. and the amazing ways in which it has been reconstructed deserve a lot more space than six stick-figure comic panels, but hey, barbarically reducing things of great literary and scholarly merit to their bare bones is kind of my "thing". At the very least, now you know that when Hamlet tries to rhyme "move" and "love", it's not actually him pretending to be mad.
The super-linguist in question is David Crystal, whose praises I've repeatedly sung. In his O.P. endeavors he has been ably assisted by his son, Ben Crystal, an actor who, armed with Shakespeare's O.P., can make the prologue of Romeo and Juliet sound sexier and more piratical than you could have ever imagined. If you don't believe me, just take a listen:
Seriously. That's gorgeous. Here's a longer video, featuring Papa Crystal and Ben at the Globe:
It's easy to get snobbish about Shakespeare and to believe it works only when performed in the elegantly trained received pronunciation of an Ian McKellen or a Benedict Cumberbatch. But, as the Crystals point out, received pronunciation is even further away from Shakespeare's original accent than American accents are from it.
Shakespeare can be performed in any accent. English, Welsh, Scottish, American, Canadian, Singaporean, I don't care. His words still have immense power. However, when you hear it spoken in O.P., you really get a sense of what it must have been like for those first groundlings at the first Globe Theatre.