Shakespeare Pronunciation Mobile App

Features of the Shakespeare Pronunciation App

shakespeare_writingThe mobile audio Shakespeare Dictionary, is for anyone who is acting in Shakespeare’s plays or is teaching the plays or just likes to read the plays. The actors or readers have a quick access to the pronunciations of the words in all of the plays. This includes character and place names as well as any unusual words. More than 5000 words are included and in addition to the audio, the words are respelled in a simple respelling system that is easy to follow.  The Key to Pronunciation, which is at the bottom of each page, gives a quick reference to the respelling system.

In some cases the Shakespeare Dictionary has definitions to clarify which pronunciation goes with which word. For example “wind” is listed three times.  “Wind (n)” is “a current of air” and pronounced and respelled WIND. “Wind (v)” is “ to blow” and is pronounced and respelled WIND. “Wind (v)” “(to turn or twist)” is pronounced and respelled WEYEND.  These brief definitions will help the actor or student or teacher know which pronunciation to use.

In the Shakespeare Dictionary there is a section called “More” and this section includes an essay on Scanning the Verse, and a section on the Accents and Dialects that are used in the plays. In addition, there is a section called “Words to Watch Out For” which offers brief observations on the words with unusual stress in that play as well as words that expand or contract depending of the demands of the metre. For example, revenue is pronounced today with a stress on the first syllable but in Shakespeare’s plays the word often require a stress on the second syllable. These words are examples to guide the user to other words in the play with unusual stress, expansion or contraction. There is also a listing of how much prose and/or verse there is in each play, as well as the amount of rhyming verse.


Shakespeare Pronunciation Mobile App

Easy to Use Shakespeare Pronunciation Mobile App

When using the Shakespeare Pronunciation Mobile App, an actor, director, teacher or student or anyone who loves to read Shakespeare has quick access to the pronunciations of the words in Shakespeare’s plays. This includes character names, place names, as well as any unusual words. In the past, there was a lot of time spent researching various dictionaries, or asking fellow actors or the director how to pronounce a word. Now the actor can click on a word to hear it pronounced and can also see the word respelled in an easy to follow respelling system.

Shakespeare Pronunciation Mobile App

For example on the Shakespeare Pronunciation Mobile App the character in “The Winter’s Tale”, “Hermione” is respelled her-MEYE-uh-nee. There is a Key to Pronunciation at the bottom of every word and you can click on it and see the key of words for the vowels and consonants. In addition the words have a “scans to” for the examples when the word’s stress changes depending on the iambic pentameter line. For “Hermione” the scans to example is “scans to her-MEYE-nee e.g. @ WT V, 3, 28”. These examples have the act, scene and line number (based on the Pelican edition’s line numbering) so that the actor/director/student can check the example.

The Shakespeare Pronunciation Mobile App is just that “mobile”. The actor has the words right at her/his fingertips. It is available for iPhones or for Androids. This is very different than carrying around a book or books to check the pronunciation of words (which is what actors had to do in the past). The accessibility to the Shakespeare Pronunciation Mobile App makes this an invaluable tool both in the rehearsal studio and in the classroom. The research for these words was done for the book “All the Words on Stage, A Complete Pronunciation Dictionary for the plays of William Shakespeare”.

Shakespeare Pronunciation Mobile App

Why Use Shakespeare Pronunciation App?

Shakespeare Pronunciation AppWhile listening to the Shakespeare Pronunciation App one might ask: Why are correct pronunciations in Shakespeare important?  I would say the primary reason is consistency. All of the characters inhabiting the world of the play should be consistent.  For example, everyone says roh-SIL-yuhn for the “Countess” in “All’s Well that Ends Well” so we know that they all live in the same world. All of the characters in “Coriolanus” say vuh-LUHM-nee-uh for “Volumnia”  so again, we know the characters are in the same world.  If the audience heard a variety of pronunciations for a character, they might be wondering why everyone was pronouncing it differently.  We want the audience to be absorbed in the play and not wondering about pronunciations.

Before our book “All the Words on Stage, a Complete Pronunciation Dictionary for the Plays of William Shakespeare”, voice/text coaches used to call each other when working on a production. “How do you pronounce this character?”; “What have you used in the past?”;  “What have you heard in other productions?”; “How do you scan this line?”; “Does it change the pronunciation if you scan the line?” We needed a Shakespeare Pronunciation Dictionary to help us to coach our shows.  At that time, the only books that were available were Helge Kokeritz’s “Shakespeare’s Names”  and Theodora Irvine’s “How to Pronounce the Names in Shakespeare”.  Both books gave only character names and did not include any of the other words. The Kokeritz book was based on English pronunciation with occasional American variants. The Shakespeare Pronunciation Dictionary App is based on American vowel sounds and in addition to character names, it includes all of the unusual words. There is also a Latin section.

Many of the suggested pronunciations in the Shakespeare Pronunciation App are based on Shakespeare’s use of iambic pentameter which can change the stress of a syllable and also the vowel sound. These variants help the actor to speak a living, breathing language instead of just reciting the written text.