Where you from, bruh?

OK, a quick hit (well, I thought it was going to be a short one when I started writing this) on pronunciation in The Tempest

Prospero is the former Duke of Milan.

Where?

Well, many here in the states–for some reason–pronounce the word, with a long E sound in the first syllable, and an AH sound in the stressed second syllable: mee – LAHN. Which is how the folks over at emmasaying.com says it.

Of course, the folks over at PronounceNames.com play it two ways: the above for the Italian pronunciation (though for them the two syllables seem equally stressed), and two alternatives for English–the above and well as a softer first syllable: MI – LAHN (and again both syllables seem to be stressed).

Wikipedia, seems to have a more Italiano Italian pronunciation: mee – LAH – no.

So where does Shakespeare come out on all this?

None of the above.

First, for it to scan correctly, the emphasis has to be on the first syllable:


~ / ~ / ~ / ~ / ~

Thy father was the Duke of Milan and

~ / ~ / ~ / ~ / ~ /

Was Duke of Milan, and his only heir

/ ~ ~ / ~ / ~ / ~ / ~ /

Absolute Milan. Me, poor man, my library

~ / ~ / ~ / ~ / ~ / ~

The dukedom, yet unbowed (alas, poor Milan!)

/ ~ ~ / ~ / ~ / ~ / ~

Out of the dukedom, and confer fair Milan,

~ / ~ / ~ / ~ / ~ / ~

The gates of Milan, and i’ th’ dead of darkness
  • I.ii.54, 58, 109, 115, 126, 130

The speaker here should seem above pronounced reproach, as it’s Prospero. But he’s not the only one…

Ferdinand:


~ / ~ / ~ / ~ / ~ / ~

Yes, faith, and all his lords, the Duke of Milan
  • I.ii.438

Alonso:


~ / ~ / ~ / ~ / / /

Of Naples and of Milan, what strange fish
  • II.i.112

Sebastian


~ / ~ / ~ | / ~ ~ / ~ /

I fear, forever. Milan and Naples have
  • II.i.132

Of course, this–at first blush–would seem to be an iambic pronunciation…but I see a naturally occurring caesura at that period, so that Milan returns to trochee, followed by an iamb (in NAY – puls). His confederate, and Prospero’s brother, Antonio also uses the trochaic stressing:


~ / ~ / ~ / ~ / ~ / ~

That stand ’twixt me and Milan, candied be they
  • II.i.278

As does Ariel:


~ / ~ / ~ / ~ / ~ /

From Milan did supplant good Prospero,
  • III.iii.70

And Gonzalo:


~ / ~ / ~ / ~ / ~ / ~

Was Milan thrust from Milan, that his issue
  • V.i.205

And he uses it twice for good measure.

So that takes care of stress. But what about vowel sound?

Tradition, and more importantly the research done by Ben Crystal for his authoritative study, The Oxford Dictionary of Original Shakespearean Pronunciation, has that first syllable a soft I sound, so that it’s “MI – lun.”

Thus, Prospero comes from Milan or “MI – lun.”

Comment?