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4.4.6. Speech prefixes

4.4.6. Speech prefixes

For a recent discussion of some of the issues involved in speech prefixes, see Susan Snyder, "Naming Names in All's Well That Ends Well," Shakespeare Quarterly 43 (1992): 265-79.

a) Normalization

Normalize speech prefixes throughout a play. Use the full form of a character-name throughout. Collate significant variations in the copy text, and note the matter in the commentary; you may also wish to discuss the issue in the Textual Introduction. Do not use square brackets [ ] in the text for altered or supplied speech prefixes.

b) Format

Speech prefixes will use upper and lower case as in normal prose: Faustus, not FAUSTUS. Give speech prefixes in the shortest unambiguous form of the name or description of the speaker: e.g. Canterbury or Archbishop rather than Archbishop of Canterbury. Where rank or title changes during the action, you may change speech prefixes to reflect the fact, unless confusion is likely to result.

Note: The current display of speech prefixes on the site shows them in capital letters with a reduced font size. This is for stylistic reasons: the computer converts lower to upper case. The reason we have chosen standard lower case for prefixes is that it's possible to convert them automatically to upper case, but not the other way around, since the computer program will not be smart enough to know what to do with MacDuff, for example.

c) Groups of characters

Speech prefixes for groups of characters should use numerals: 1, 2, 3, etc., rather than first, second, third. e.g. 1 Soldier, 2 Servant.

d) Epithets

Where characters of the same name are distinguished by epithets, usually "old" and "young," treat these epithets as part of the name thus: Old Goddard.

e) Assignment of speeches

Where major innovation or editorial decision is involved in assignment of speeches, you should discuss the matter in the commentary.

f) Typographical appearance

All speech prefixes must follow these conventions:

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