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English - In the spotlight

Spoken like the Bard

The British Library's new audio recording of Shakespeare's works, spoken in the original pronunciation, is an ideal treat for the English classroom to celebrate Shakespeare's birthday on 23 April.

What is it?

Actor and Shakespearian pronunciation expert Professor David Crystal has brought together actors to perform some of Shakespeare's most well-known speeches in a way the Bard would recognise. The CD contains an introductory essay by Crystal and 28 recordings, including Mark Antony's "Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears" from Julius Caesar, Henry V's "Once more into the breach, dear friends" and "All the world's a stage" from As You Like It.

Crystal identified language patterns to restore rhyme to the sonnets, matched the phonetics of speech to spelling (such as the word "film" becoming "thilom") and studied linguistic research. "When we hear original pronunciation used in relation to Shakespeare, we enter a new auditory world. Rhymes that don't work in modern English suddenly work. Puns missed become clear," Crystal says.

What else?

For more information, go to the British Library website (http:bit.lyyxHLms). The British Library will be hosting Shakespeare's Original Pronunciation - Live! on 4 May at 7pm, offering a rare chance to hear extracts performed in true Jacobean style. Take a look at the First Folio reproductions available from the Globe theatre. Or try its manga Shakespeare for an accessible introduction for younger pupils.

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