Ok. This will be short. I promise.
This is in response to seeing and being involved in years of Shakespeare productions… It’s not in reference to any one production or company in specific. I’ve brought it up numerous times with other actors and directors, and often I get some response like, “Does it really matter?”
The word is “thither.” It is pronounced with a voiced “th” (there, brother) in both instances in the word. It is not pronounced with an unvoiced “th” (with, theatre).
I don’t harp on this because I am part of the word-police. I harp on it because it is a story telling devise. Today’s audiences rarely hear the word “thither” and use it even less often. By phonetically connecting the word with a word they know (there) we do a better job of telling the story to our audience.
That, and it’s simply the correct way to pronounce it.
I often see people making up their own rules with Shakespeare, which can admittedly be fun… if you know the rules you are breaking. Why should you care? Because when you care about these things, it places you in the pantheon of people who care about the history of our language and the greatness of its most successful poet and the prowess he used when manipulating the sounds of the English language. We are the people most likely to see your show, and when we hear these words pronounced correctly, it is pleasing… even exciting. And we are in the business of words, after all.
Need a citation? http://www.oed.com/view/Entry/200910
Oh, and if you need to know how to pronounce “importune”… scan. It can be pronounced two different ways, and in Shakespeare, it’s rarely pronounced the way you probably think it is.
Ok, that is all.