Just last week I was reading A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and found myself stumbling afresh over those occasional awkward rhymes:
This happens a lot in poetry of a certain age, of course, but I have never quite grown used to it. Last week I paused awhile over the problem, trying to conjure up an accent that would make the lines rhyme true, but I couldn’t manage it. It is a nice coincidence, therefore, that today I came across a video of actors performing the play with an allegedly ‘authentic’ accent. Sure enough, it rhymes. How linguists go about deciding what does or does not constitute an authentic accent, I do not know — unless it is simply by studying lines like the ones above and trying to come up with a pronunciation that works. In any case, it’s an interesting experiment. It is surprising to hear how un-English the accent sounds.
(Hat-tip: Joe Carter)