Posts Tagged ‘Shakespeare’

I was 7 years old when I first went to North Carolina’s Outer Banks.  That was long enough ago that the desk clerk at our motel, the girls at the cash registers, even the DJs on the local radio all, to my young Piedmont ears, talked real funny.

My parents explained to me that I was hearing the Outer Banks’ “hoi toide” brogue, that the isolation of the Banks and the Tidewater region preserved the accents of the original English settlers down through the centuries.  My little history-nerd self thought it was the coolest thing I’d ever heard.  (Years later, I was in a hotel room in London, falling asleep with the TV on, when I heard a voice speak in familiar tones.  I sat up, thinking they were talking to an Outer Banker; instead, I saw an old-timer from the west of England.  The accent was essentially the same.)

The British Library has completed a project to determine what Shakespeare sounded like; they’ve “completed a new recording of 75 minutes of The Bard’s most famous scenes, speeches and sonnets, all performed in the original pronunciation of Shakespeare’s time.”  The accent is so different as to be unintelligible at times, and though Scott Simon of NPR compares it to that of the Appalachians, to my (now much older) Piedmont ears, I’m hearing much of the same old “hoi toide.”  (I wonder what milepost the Globe was at?)


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