Research: Original Pronunciation and IPA

Hello and welcome to my second post.

Today’s post, features the original links that sparked my interest in the Original Pronunciation accent.

Shakespeare: Original Pronunciation
(ouLearn on YouTube, 2011)


Speaking the bright and beautiful English of Shakespeare, Ben Crystal
(British Council | EnglishAgenda, 2014)


Basically, OP is an accent that has only become prolific in recent years, but the idea of it is to replicate as accurately as possible, the accent from 400-or-so years ago in England, around the time when William Shakespeare (and other important historical figures) were around.

As a theatre student, I’m going to be focusing more on plays/poetry that was written by Shakespeare or other prolific writers of the time, as it is more relevant to my theatre studies, but I will also incorporate quite a bit of general history from that time, into my project also.

In recent years I have done some study with the worldwide form of accent-notation known as the IPA (International Phonetic Alphabet). This alphabet helps anyone to be able to speak English in different accents. This alphabet is still very useful as well for learning the pronunciation of words in other languages too! So not only is it helpful for people who want to speak different accents in English, but it can also be helpful for people who want to speak other languages.


My idea is to research Original Pronunciation and learn how to speak it myself.
Then I’ll attempt to teach the accent to fellow actors who have also studied the IPA system.
Following that I’ll produce a few scenes from a play ((or multiple plays),(probably Shakespeare plays)) and use that performance for my Honours assessment.

I’m not entirely sure about what the performance will entail at this point in time, but I’m envisaging that it will in some form, contrast the text spoken in OP, with text spoken in natural (or RP (Received Pronunciation)) accents. This would involve either; having some characters speak in OP/other accents for the entire scene(s), or it could involve performing the whole scene in one particular accent and then repeating it again in Original Pronunciation. Not sure at this point.

I have successfully contacted Ben and David Crystal (the pioneers and knowledgable researchers of this accent), and they have been very helpful so far in answering my questions and offering to skype with me in the future to test my OP-speaking skills and see how I have gone with learning the accent.

I would love to travel to London to experience the accent in person at The Globe Theatre, where OP productions are performed, but unfortuantely finances hinder me from doing so at this point in time. (Could be something to incorporate into my Masters degree?)

As far as I am aware, there isn’t many (if any at all) practitioners in Australia who teach/study the Original Pronunciation accent intensely. So I am hopefully doing something quite new and interesting -to Australia at least.

Whilst this accent does originate from England. The OP accent is a mix of a bunch of different accents from the UK, Scotland, Ireland and many other parts of Europe. When colonies from the European area, starting sailing off to explore America, Australia, etc, many of these cultures and accent would have gone with those explorations – and so in part, while OP may sound quite different and farfetched to American or Australian audiences, Original Pronunciation does have roots to most of the Western world and can thereby be relevant in many different ways.

It is also interesting how modern performances, feature Shakespeare plays/poems being performed in an upper class, dignified British accent, where Original Pronunciation, which was the accent spoken in Shakespearean times, is so much earthier and grittier and dirtier and deeper in volume, then the RP accents.

This accent began gaining popularity in 2004 when David Crystal collaborated with The Globe Theatre to mount a production of Romeo and Juliet in Original Pronunciation. David Crystal and his son Ben Crystal, are two of the head motivators of the OP movement, and are constantly doing presentations all around the world, about their findings with this accent. OP plays are performed quite often nowadays, and they are becoming more popular each year.


Paul Meier is a world-renowned accents and dialects coach who has also worked as a voice-over artist for theatre and film for over 40 years. He founded and is director of the IDEA (International Dialects of English Archive) , which have audio clips of people speaking from many different ages and backgrounds, from many different countries and cities around the world. He established the archive to provide actors with some real, legitimate accents for them to listen to and learn from – when taking on a new role.(Welcome to IDEA, 2016)
I’ll be going into a lot more detail obviously, but here is a basic starting point for my research. These links house the answers to the following (which of course are only some of the many questions I have, and will come across) :

What is Original Pronunciation?
How does one speak Original Pronunciation?
What is the IPA?
How does one speak the IPA?
Where can I find examples of accents for me to listen to?

That will do for today. Next time I post, I will attempt to find out more about the era that Original Pronunciation is set in. What kind of people lived around Shakespeare area of London, how they would have sounded, and what kind of languages and accents would have influenced the OP accent. I’ll probably also look a bit more into the history of The Globe Theatre and of how that accent would have resonated in that space.

Below is some pictures of the consonant and vowel symbols included in the IPA.

Soon, I’ll add a references page that I’ll update regularly that will have all the links and references for all of my research if anyone is interested 🙂

ANYWAY, until next time!

This is TattleTaleTony, signing out 😀

Enter a caption

This is the alphabet chart for the consonant symbols and the sounds they represent.


Enter a caption

This is the alphabet chart for the vowel symbols and the sounds they represent.


British Council | EnglishAgenda (2014) Speaking the bright and beautiful English of Shakespeare, Ben crystal. Available at: (Accessed: 29 February 2016).

IPA chart with sounds | international phonetic alphabet sounds (2015) Available at: (Accessed: 29 February 2016).

ouLearn on YouTube (2011) Shakespeare: Original pronunciation. Available at: (Accessed: 29 February 2016).

Paul Meier dialect services (2016) Available at: (Accessed: 29 February 2016).

The production or performance of works from earlier periods of English spoken in original pronunciation (2002) Available at: (Accessed: 29 February 2016).

Welcome to IDEA (2016) Available at: (Accessed: 29 February 2016).


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