201 The Bard's English
The Bard's English is a guide to English for Renaissance Faires and other reenactors covering roughly the years 1560-1620. It begins by recognizing two fundamental truths that are often overlooked, even by serious students of the language:
There is no single "correct" Elizabethan accent or dialect in English. It varied so widely, even in a single year and place, that it is impossible to say with authority what is "correct."
The goal, for actors, is not necessarily to speak the most rigidly historical dialect possible, but rather to find a theatrical compromise. Renaissance Faires are theatre, after all, and the dialect must be easy for actors to learn and for audiences to understand.
Keeping this in mind, it presents a great deal of knowledge in a compact and readable package. Sprinkled with humor and interesting historical tidbits, it never forgets the reader, or gets too "dry" or scholarly to enjoy.
Part 1 of the book presents a detailed look at the language of Shakespeare's time: its background and development, how it was used theatrically and in everyday speech. It concludes with sections on Names and Numbers, Measures, and Money.
In Part 2, The Bard's English takes a close look at how the language may have been spoken: accents, variances of pronunciation, grammar, and how that applies to the reenactor. This section winds up with "Hope for the Grammar-Impaired" and "Taking it to the Streets."
Part 3 concludes the book with a series of detailed vocabularies, totaling well over five hundred words, categorized for easy reference. This part also includes a special section on expletives and exclamations, a list of fifty useful phrases, a reverse phrasebook, a series of exercises, and an extensive bibliography.
If you'd like to sample it for yourself, you can click on the links below to view Adobe Acrobat (.pdf) files showing selected pages and sections. (Note that the samples given here were taken from an early version of the book).