Sunday, 3 February 2013

manager of mirth or as you like it

The Bard, William Shakespeare, had such a circumspect command of English grammar (and other languages besides) as to be able to depart significantly from convention and intersperse his plays with what is regarded now as natural and essential parts of speech but created or rather committed to paper transformations of verbs in to noun counterparts and vice-versa and coined the antithesis for many words. The action to manage was in common parlance but not so a manager; there was hearten but no dishearten, the same for inaudible—not to mention inventive and intuitive words for the nonce, like swagger and belongings. One convention Shakespeare was unable to buck, however, was the Elizabethan proscription again having women on the stage and all roles were played by male actors. Often in the stage directions, one can find the abbreviation, “Dr.A.G.,” dressed as a girl, in other words, when these characters were cued. It was not until the latter half of the nineteenth century that the term drag (and the counterpart for a cross-dressing female, drab—dressed as a boy) appeared again in print, but maybe the idea can be traced by to the playwright as well.