Thanks to the American educational system, most people are at least a little familiar with Shakespeare’s work. And thanks to movies and the modern British accent, most people have an idea about what they think the plays sounded like back when they were first being performed. As it turns out, most people are wrong.
Kottke just posted this fascinating 10-minute Open University video about OP, or original pronunciation, which is to say how the plays were originally spoken back in the day. Some of the changes are slight, but they make a big difference. For example: In Sonnet 116, “proved” is supposed to rhyme with “loved.”
It’s a little difficult to explain, so just watch the clip below. For even more information, check out the Open University course on the subject. Also interesting: Mental Floss’ investigation into when Americans lost their British accents.