"play Copenhagen"

Jesse Sheidlower jester at PANIX.COM
Thu Jul 6 13:31:11 UTC 2006

On Thu, Jul 06, 2006 at 09:18:08AM -0400, Joel S. Berson wrote:
> Jonathan, what sense of "play" are you referring
> to?  I only have OED2,  for which sense 31.a "To
> represent in mimic action; to perform as a
> spectacle upon the stage, etc.; to act (a
> pageant, drama, etc.)" has cites from a1380, and
> pretty plain for 1589 "The old comedies were
> plaid in the broad streets vpon wagons or carts
> vncouered." and 1602 Hamlet "The whil'st this Play is Playing."
> 31.c is 1896 in OED2, but it seems narrower,
> being restricted to a play:  "To perform a play
> or the like in (a specified town, theatre, etc.);
> to appear as a performer or entertainer at (a
> particular place)."  (Although I'm not clear what
> the difference is between a "drama" and a "play",
> and Shakespeare used "play" in the Hamlet quote.)

The difference is that sense 31.c. has the location
performed as the object of the transitive verb,
while 31.a. has the play as the object of the transitive
verb. It's not a distinction between _play_ and _drama_.

OED3 will have an 1886 example of this, by the way.
Improvements welcome!

Jesse Sheidlower

The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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