Accent Implementation #1 – Original Pronunciation

Once I decided that I wanted to include Original Pronunciation in my first experiment, I began researching how I could learn to speak/teach it to others. Thankfully, David Crystal has worked with Paul Meier to establish a document, reminiscent of the work in Meier’s book: Accents and Dialects for Stage and Screen. David Crystal and his son Ben Crystal have also written quite a few helpful texts that I have bought to help me through the process. I have now also shared these documents with my actor Patrick Klavins, who will attempt to portray an OP accent for my first experiment.

The document that Paul Meier and David Crystal compiled is called: The Original Pronunciation (OP) of Shakespeare’s English. It is available online in PDF form, at the website: The file also includes links to sound files of Meier pronouncing the work detailed in the PDF document.

This is what the front cover of the document looks like, just in case you would like to look it up and check it out for yourself! (It’s really cool! :D)

An example of one of his helpful sound files is linked here also:

I gave my actor a physical printout of this document, as well as copies of the sound files that he could use to learn the signature sounds of the accent.

Another tool that has been helpful in this process, are the online International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA) charts that have sound files attached. Original Pronunciation, features some phonetic symbols that I hadn’t used in my Australian studies thus far, so these online sound tools have been helpful to learn how to speak all the symbols needed for OP.

I also have given my actor links to these websites, so that if he has any trouble with speaking particular symbols, he can also listen to the symbols individually, and gain a greater grasp of what they sound like.

Paul Meier’s website is just one example in which these charts are featured. Examples are linked here:



Some of the other important tools that I have used throughout this process are some books written by David Crystal (mentioned in previous blog Posts – English linguist who is the at the forefront of the OP accent and its implementation in modern theatre).

One of the most vital books that I purchased, was a book that was only released in March 2016, this year.

The Oxford Dictionary of Original Shakespearean Pronunciation. This book lists all the words used by William Shakespeare in his plays, and notes the phonetic symbols used in order to pronounce those words in Original Pronunciation. This text has been an important part of transcribing my actor’s text into phonetic symbols. It has helped me to gain a greater understanding of the vowel shifts used in the OP accent, and will be an important tool moving forward into the rehearsal process, when we stumble across words we have difficulty in pronouncing.



Another (and potentially less recognised) text that is helpful through this process is the website: YouTube.

Youtube has its pros and cons. It is a worldwide platform that allows anyone with an internet connection to upload videos of happenings that go on in other countries. Some of these can be incredibly insightful and moving. The con to this; is that because the platform can be accessed by anyone and everyone, the content itself can easily be of lesser quality.

I advise my actors to approach monologues and performances of plays on YouTube, with caution. There can be some great performances on that web service, however the majority of performances are amateur performances that can often be quite distant from the final presented product, and the artists’ original vision.

‘Use it as inspiration to then stray away from that performance and do your own thing.’ That’s my motto!

Despite all of this, there are a few youtube clips that I linked to my actor Patrick that will hopefully help him with the Original Pronunciation accent.

Most of them are videos featuring Ben and David Crystal, or are at least about their work and are gaining feedback from them in some form.

Here are a few of the helpful links we looked at:

Shakespeare: Original pronunciation

Original Pronunciation – Hamlet – To Be, or not to be… – Ben Crystal

Speaking the bright and beautiful English of Shakespeare, Ben Crystal

KU Theatre – Performing Shakespeare in its original pronunciation

KU Theatre – Students perform Shakespeare in original pronunciation

Why people enjoy hearing Shakespeare in its Original Pronunciation

Shakespeare, puns, and Original Pronunciation

Shakespeare, rhymes, and Original Pronunciation

16th century grammar books and Shakespeare’s Original Pronunciation

Sonnet 116 – Original Pronunciation – Shakespeare on Toast

RP vs OP – Shakespeare on Toast

Another one of the tools used in helping my actor to achieve this accent, is an audio CD compiled by Ben Crystal titled: Shakespeare’s Original Pronunciation: Speeches and scenes performed as Shakespeare would have heard them. This CD features several sonnets and excerpts from differing Shakespeare plays. The excerpts are performed in the Original Pronunciation accent, but are performed by a variety of actors of different sexes and ages. This CD helps myself and my actor Patrick to see that the OP accent sounds different, depending on the actor’s own influence they give the accent. It’s very interesting to hear the different actors speak the same vowel shifts and linguistic traits, but in vastly different ways. Whilst the excerpt I am presenting for my first experiment, isn’t included on this CD, there is an excerpt from an earlier scene in Romeo and Juliet and it is interesting to see the comparison to how the recorded actor speaks the lines – with how I would recite those lines if given the opportunity.


(source: )

The culmination of these texts and references, led me to this wonderful document here:

Antonio Honours Project – Script OP

This document has the Shakespearean text in the left-hand column, and a modern translation in the right-hand column. The modern translation was sourced from the website: No Fear Shakespeare.
(source: )

Underneath the Shakespearean text on the left-hand side, is the phonetic translation of the text into the Original Pronunciation accent. Originally, I was lucky enough to have a copy of my scene emailed to be from David Crystal himself, with the OP accent phonetically transcribed.  However, technology corrupted the file, and so I used my newly-purchased copy of The Oxford Dictionary of Original Shakespearean Pronunciation to transcribe each word into the correct phonetic symbols. This process took quite a number of hours, but eventually came to fruition and has been given to Patrick to significantly aid him with his OP accent.

Here is an example of what I mean 🙂

Anyway, there’ll be a lot more work done in my rehearsals with Patrick Klavins on the OP accent, but for now, I feel this is a solid base in which to get him familiar with the speech patterns, and how the text needs to be spoken for this experiment.

Onwards and upwards to bigger and better things! 😀 It just keeps getting more and more exciting! ^-^

Next I shall be working on the Received Pronunciation translation of the Shakespearean text, for my actors Hannah and Yasmine. Following that, I will be working on the translation of my actor Bridget‘s voice into phonetic symbols, using recordings of her performances. THAT should be interesting!

Hope things are still clear to see and understand!

Feel free to contact me if anyone has any questions!

Thank you for taking the time to read my post!

Hope you all have a lovely day.

Peace out!

TattleTaleTony :3


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