Thou gleeking folly-fallen puttock of an iPhone app


The Shakespeare Insult meme takes a portable turn with the Shakespeare Insulter for iPhone.

This app is supposedly "official" (who says?) but strangely, it features an American voice, which issues from the nutcracker-jawed head of the Bard like that of a self-important postmodernist literary scholar who is unaware of his tendency toward melodrama. "Thou" becomes an interminable "Th-owwwwwwwww", followed by any two random adjectives and noun. There's nothing innovative about it, no way to customize it, and apparently no way to speed the darn thing up. Two bitten thumbs down! Get this app to a nunnery, and don't try again until Patrick Stewart, Stephen Fry, or Ian McKellan has agreed to voice the insults.

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I believe this app was actually written by Christopher Marlowe.

The closest surviving relative of Shakespeare's accent is widely thought to be somewhere in the U.S. - I've heard it cited as "vaguely Southern", Appalachian, or from Tangier Island, VA. Using a modern English accent (especially the posh ones we associate with edumacatedness) would be be slightly more anachronistic than a modern American voice.

Sure the modern British accent is not the one with which Shakespeare would have spoken - but I beg to differ; a twangy modern American midwestern accent is no more authentic. Only certain regional American accents are thought to be close. Furthermore, I had an English professor who grew up in one of those regions, so I'm quite familiar with the sound.

But that's neither here nor there. The actors I listed were not selected because they are British, but because they have the acting chops, gravitas and genuine relish of the English language to perform Shakespeare's dialogue well. Feel free to add James Earl Jones or Avery Brooks to that list, if you like.