Report by Rory Marsh
and Robert Crawfurd, J Social 6.1s
David Crystal is far from your everyday academic, writer,
editor, lecturer and broadcaster. He is an accomplished Shakespeare enthusiast,
alongside his far from modest achievements, including his OBE, FBA and FLSW to
name a few. Everything you know about Shakespeare is wrong. The language,
the comedy, the complexity, may seem antique, but is as potent as ever.
shared his knowledge with us through his humorous dissection of the language of
one of the greatest writers to ever live. His delivery was nothing short of
enthralling, as passion seeped from every word spoken. His broad, perhaps
unmatched knowledge of the subject shared with us, cementing this man’s
reputation as a veteran of Shakespearian study. He dusted off the mundane
technique of iambic pentameter to explain it in a new light. David Crystal
breathed life into a tired, age-old study with showmanship and unmatched
charisma, with a central message throughout: ‘The plays are for the stage, not
for the page’.
The distinguished Shakespeare scholar, David Crystal OBE,
came to Radley on the afternoon on Wednesday September 14th to give
a fascinating Talk to a large audience, which included pupils from Radley, Oxford Spires
Academy, Didcot Girls’ School and Desborough College (Radley’s partner school).
David Crystal took as his theme ‘The Tongue that Shakespeare
Spoke’ and gave his audience some fascinating insights into how the Plays were
actually performed and pronounced at the time.
Everyone learned something new about The Bard: including,
for example, the fact that of the million or so words he used in his Canon,
only around 5% were different to those in modern English. As he put it, “Most
of the time, the language of Shakespeare is the same as we use today.” David
Crystal also underlined the importance of iambic pentameter in helping actors
learn their lines at very short notice, from “cue scripts” – often memorised
This event was organised by Anne Muhlberg, Radley’s
Librarian (pictured below, with David and Hilary Crystal).