For a group that only meets several times a year, learning to speak in Elizabethan English is a daunting task. Learning Elizabethan English would be similar to learning a new foreign language. While many words and pronunciations are the same as modern American, many are not. There are also words that are no longer used and whose meanings are not known. Because of that, Trayn’d Bandes members do not speak in exact Shakespearian English.
Members also do not adopt English accents; it is disconcerting, requires a great deal of effort and
never sounds correct (and our actual English member will mock you, if you do). Many members speak standard American English most of the time during events. This is probably a good way to start, but pretty soon, you’ll want to add some Elizabethan speech patterns and words to your vocabulary.
You can watch Shakespearian films, like Henry V and Much Ado About Nothing for excellent examples of the fancy speech of the time, but the dialog in Shakespeare in Love and the Blackadder Elizabethan series is closer to what the Bandes uses. We will also sometimes go out of period and quote from The Three Musketeers (the ’70’s version, although the Disney sneaks in occasionally)
Talking to other members in period is one of the most daunting aspects of Bandes events for newcomers. The concern is usually to not say anything that would harm the event. Coordinating with other members about a topic to start conversations is a good idea. We cannot stress enough that newcomers attempting to “speak Elizabethan” cannot harm an event.
The only hard and fast rule is to not discuss modern things in a modern way. Don’t discuss the internet, or your new car, or a recent television program. However, you can (and should) talk about something you read in a broadside sheet, or your new horse, or a play you saw recently. We once had a long and highly entertaining discussion about the movie King Kong, completely in period (our conversation concerning London bridge was epic and still spoken of). If you stay away from modern terms, you can discuss almost anything (since all good Englishmen are at least openly protestants, explaining how much you love the Pope is probably not a good idea).
Sometimes, newcomers are afraid they’ll sound dumb. Everyone at the event was a newcomer at some point and no one will think less of someone who tries to talk in period and doesn’t quite succeed (some of our favorite stories are about things said by new – and not so new- members). People in period were not as well informed as we are, had some interesting ideas which we now know are not correct (but are fun to “believe”), and if all else fails you can always fall back on the fact that bad taste is period So take a deep breath and talk about whatever comes to mind. We promise we won’t laugh at you, just with you.