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Home :: Archive :: 1997 :: April ::
Re: SHAXICON
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 8.0422.  Monday, 7 April 1997.

[1]     From:   Gabriel Wasserman <
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        Date:   Friday, 04 Apr 1997 10:57:31 -0500
        Subj:   Re: SHK 8.0417  Q: SHAXICON

[2]     From:   Gabriel Wasserman <
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        Date:   Friday, 04 Apr 1997 11:18:42 -0500
        Subj:   Re: SHK 8.0412  Re: SHAXICON

[3]     From:   Patrick Gillespie <
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        Date:   Saturday, 5 Apr 1997 11:05:59 -0500
        Subj:   SHAXICON, the Elegy & Edmund Ironside

[4]     From:   David J. Kathman <
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 > =

        Date:   Sunday, 6 Apr 1997 15:29:19 +0100
        Subj:   Re: SHK 8.0417  Q: SHAXICON


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Gabriel Wasserman <
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 >
Date:           Friday, 04 Apr 1997 10:57:31 -0500
Subject: 8.0417  Q: SHAXICON
Comment:        Re: SHK 8.0417  Q: SHAXICON

A while ago, the great Don Foster Himself (notice the capital "H")
posted:

Shakespeare Electronic Conference, Vol. 6, No. 0533.  Thursday, 6 July
1995.

From:           Don Foster <
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Date:           Tuesday, 04 Jul 1995 11:40:16 +0100
Subject:        Re: SHAXICON

To all of you good folks out there who have inquired lately about
SHAXICON and its availability, and about the roles that Shakespeare may
have played:

Caveat: This will be a long post, but I'm trying to answer loads of
queries in one swoop (or, as Pogo used to say, "in one fell soup"):

First, what is it?  SHAXICON is a lexical database that indexes all of
the words that appear in the canonical plays 12 times or less, including
a line-citation and speaking character for each occurrence of each word.
(These are called "rare words," though they are not rare in any absolute
sense-"family [n.]" and "real [ad.]" are rare words in Shakespeare.) All
rare-word variants are indexed as well, including the entire "bad"
quartos of H5, 2H6, 3H6, Ham, Shr, and Wiv; also the nondramatic works,
canonical and otherwise (Ven, Luc, PP, PhT, Son, LC, FE, the Will,
"Shall I die," et. al.); the additions to Mucedorus and The Spanish
Tragedy, the Prologue to Merry Devil of Edmonton, all of Edward III and
Sir Thomas More (hands S and D); Ben Jonson's Every Man in His Humour
(both Q1 and F1) and Sejanus (F1); and more; but these other texts have
no effect on the 12-occurrence cutoff that sets the parameters for
SHAXICON's lexical universe.

What SHAXICON demonstrates is that the rare-words in Shakespearean texts
are not randomly distributed either diachronically or synchronically,
but are "mnemonically structured."  Shakespeare's active lexicon as a
writer was systematically influenced by his reading, and by his apparent
activities as a stage-player.  When writing, Shakespeare was measurably
influenced by plays then in production, and by particular stage-roles
most of all.  Most significant is that, while writing, he
disproportionately "remembers" the rare-word lexicon of plays
concurrently "in repertory"; and from these plays he always registers
disproportionate lexical recall (as a writer) of just one role (or two
or three smaller roles); and these remembered roles, it can now be
shown, are most probably those that Shakespeare himself drilled in stage
performance.

SHAXICON electronically maps Shakespeare's language so that we can now
usually tell which texts influence which other texts, and when.
Moreover, when collated with the OED or with early modern texts in a
normalized machine-readable format, SHAXICON provides an incomplete
record of Shakespeare's apparent reading.  The main value of this
resource has less to do with biographical novelties, however, than with
problems of textual transmission, dating, probable authorship of
revisions, early stage history, and the like.  And because SHAXICON is a
closed system, human bias in measuring lexical influence of this sort is
effectively eliminated.  The evidentiary value of supposed "verbal
parallels" is no longer a matter of private intuition or subjective
judgment, but quantifiable, using a stable lexical index (and measurable
against a virtually limitless cross-sample of machine-readble texts).

In 1991, I published a 3-part report in SNL about SHAXICON (the database
was not then completed, and not yet dubbed), in which I made (in a few
cases, mistaken) projections concerning Shakespeare's apparent stage
roles (based on entries for about a third of the final lexical sample).
The few botched projections derived in part from key-punching
errors-e.g., "Pand" (Pandarus of TRO) was often being entered for "CPan"
(Pandulph of JN), and "QnElz" (R3) for QnEliz (3H6); and in part from
unavoidable limitations, explained in the SNL series, concerning the
variable "richness" of character-specific lexicons, which could not be
measured until the whole canon was indexed. These problems have been
eliminated.

The following list represents a corrected catalogue of those roles that
Shakespeare is most likely to have acted.  These assignments vary
somewhat in statistical significance, depending on sample size, etc.  A
fuller report (with instructions on how to run cross-checks and fully
automated statistical analysis) will appear in my "SHAXICON Notebook" (a
written commentary that has yet to be completed).  In the meantime, here
follows a list of Shakespeare's most likely stage-roles, as
statistically derived.  Keep in mind that this catalogue cannot be
proven to represent historical actuality.  SHAXICON handily selects Adam
of AYL and the Ghost of Ham as probable Shakespeare roles, both of which
are supported by hearsay evidence from the 17th century; the remaining
roles find no external historical confirmation (although Davies mentions
that Shakespeare played some kings, and SHAXICON indicates that
Shakespeare played king-roles in AWW, 1H4, 2H4, HAM, LLL, PER, and
probably MAC).  Having studied the evidence from every conceivable
angle, I'd say that the assignments below are good bets, even despite
the lack of archival evidence to back them up, for the disproportion in
Shakespeare's persistent recall of these roles is quite striking
relative to other roles in the corresponding texts. There are a few
texts (principally ADO, MV, and Jonson's EMI) in which Shakespeare may
have played two different roles in two successive seasons of the same
theatrical "run." But the statistical weight of Shakespeare's selective
recall of particular roles is in most instances pretty clear;  in fact,
when multiple roles are identified by SHAXICON as probably
Shakespearean, they are in most instances roles that are easily doubled
(exceptions and problems are are noted below).

MOST PROBABLE SHAKESPEARE ROLES, BASED ON THE POET'S PERSISTENT AND
MEASURABLE RECALL OF PARTICULAR CHARACTER-SPECIFIC LEXICONS:

ADO:  Leonato; later switching to Friar (Q version registers higher
lexical recall for Leonato, F1 version higher for Friar.  Could be
viewed as a problem, since the same actor cannot have played both roles
simultaneously, yet Shakespeare clearly "remembers" both roles (unlike
all other principal parts in ADO, which he "forgets").

ANT:  Agrippa, Philo, Proculeius, Thidias, and Ventidius, probably
simultaneously [!] (thus requiring some accommodation at 3.2.1 for
Vntd/Agri), and probably with Proculeius taking Agrippa's lines in 5.1
(hence the textual crux recently discussed on SHAKSPER).

AWW:  King of France

AYL:  Adam; adding old Corin the Shepherd in two revivals of AYL.

COR:  Shakespeare role uncertain. Highest relative post-COR lexical
"influence" comes from Sicinius, but Sicinius-"influence" is tepid
relative to the the whopping excess in lexical recall that obtains for
the designated Shakspeare roles in most other plays.

CYM:  1.Gent (I.i), Philario (I.iv, II.iv), and Jupiter (V.iv)

EMI-F (Jonson): Very complicated. Looks as if F1 may represent a major
Elizabethan revision of Q1, followed by a minor Jacobean revision (as
per established textual scholarship on EMI).  SHAXICON confirms that
Shakespeare probably knew the play in performance: in 1598, and again in
1604, words from EMI come pouring into Shakespeare's writing, forming
very distinct peaks of lexical influence just when we know that EMI was,
indeed, acted by the King's Men (and again in 1612-13).  But lexical
influence by character (entirely independent of general lexical overlap)
gives mixed signals: Shakespeare has extraordinarily high recall of two
roles that cannot have been performed simultaneously by the same player:
Old Lorenzo-Knowell (esp. the F1 Old Knowell), and Judge Clement (esp.
the Q1 Clement); and indeed, these two roles seem to alternate in their
peaks of lexical "influence" on Shakespeare's writing, which suggests
that he may have alternated roles. (But Shakespearean texts have also an
irregularly high overlap with the Thorello-Kitely role both before AND
after 1598, which cannot be explained, except as a statistical
aberration.)

ERR:  Egeon  (I.i, V.i) and Dr. Pinch (IV.iv).

1H4:  King Henry.

2H4:  King Henry (and perhaps Rumor, but only briefly).

H5:   Complicated:  It looks as if Shakespeare played the French
Messenger and Exeter in the "bad"-Q version (in 1599, while also playing
Exeter in a revival of 1H6); in H5-F1, Shakespeare appears to have
performed Bishop Ely and Montjoy.  But it looks also as if Shakespeare
may sometimes have performed the Chorus (less strongly marked, but still
pronounced in its lexical influence on late Shakespearean texts relative
to other roles in the play).  The Chorus-role is easily doubled with
Montjoy-but tripling with Ely raises a problem at I.i.0, when the Chorus
walks offstage and Ely walks on.

1H6:  Exeter (in I.i, III.i, IV.i, V.i) and probably Mortimer (II.iv) in
first run and again in 1599; switching to Bedford in 1600 ff. after
slight revisions, principally in I.i.  A problem: the same actor cannot
easily play both Exeter and Mortimer in the F1 version, given the Exeter
entrance at III.i.0 following the Mortimer exit at II.iv.212; so if
SHAXICON's Exeter/Mortimer data are correct, there has either been some
material cut betweeen II.iv and III.i, or else Shakespeare was one fast
dude when changing his duds (switching from a dead Mortimer to a living
Exeter in just 8 lines).

2H6:  Suffolk (also Suffolk in the "bad" 2H6-Q, which appears certainly
to antedate the F1 version, as has been argued by Steve Urkowitz).

3H6   Warwick (Old Clifford in the "bad" 3H6-Q, which appears certainly
to antedate F1 version, as has been argued by Steve Urkowitz).

H8:   Prologue and 1.Gentleman; or none (statistically uncertain, due to
insufficient post-H8 lexical sample).

HAM:  Ghost, 1.Player, Mess-Gent. of 4.5 (and perhaps also role in the
Mousetrap, most probably Lucianus; and probably not, as per SNL, the
player-king); Mess-Gent partly folded into Horatio role in F1 version.

JC:   Shakespeare role(s) a little uncertain, due to apparent revision
and shortening.  Most probably, Decius; and, somewhat less probably,
Flavius.

Note: Decius-Flavius doubling is not possible in the F1 version unless
F1 has been shortened from an earlier version.  In F1, at I.ii.0,
Flavius and Decius enter as mutes; but the very text of JC I.ii offers
some evidence that the text has, indeed, been shortened at this point
(e.g., in the same scene, at I.ii.285, Casca reports that "Murellus and
Flavius, for pulling scarfs off Caesar's images, are put to silence";
but, if we may believe the F1 stage direction at I.ii.0, Casca was on
stage with Murellus and Flavius moments earlier-from I.ii.0 to at least
I.ii.214--and Casca hasn't heard boo about Caesar's images in the
interim). SHAXICON thus seems to confirm the view that JC-F1 is a
shortened text (albeit with some added bits (e.g., the second account of
Portia's death, which are indexed in SHAXICON under JC-b).  I am
inclined to accept the assignments of both Decius and Flavius to
Shakespeare, but there is room for doubt.

JN:   Cardinal Pandulph.

LLL:  Ferdinand (possibly with one brief stint as Boyet).

LR:   Albany. The Albany role reduced in (revised) F1 version, one of
several designated Shakespeare roles that appears to have been cut or
reduced ca. 1612; doubtful that Albany was subsequently performed by
Shakespeare.

MAC: Shakespeare's most probable roles in this equivocating play are
Duncan, Lord, and Scots Doctor, but I wouldn't bet the farm on it, for
the evidence is itself equivocal.  That MAC was revised ca. 1612 seems
altogether likely from the evidence of SHAXICON (principally in
I.v.1-30,. I.v.71-3, IV.iii all, and V.ix.1-19; the Hecate material is
independently indexed under MAC-c-III.v all; IV.i.39-43, IV.i.125-32,
date and provenance unclear). Simon Forman's eye-witness account of MAC
as acted in 1611 suggests that the ur-MAC had a larger Duncan-role than
in the F1 version. And it has recently been argued on SHAKSPER that
there was an Elizabethan MAC on which the 1606 version was based; I find
these theories of revision attractive, and wish that someone would prove
them true, since taken together they would provide a satisfactory
explanation for the irregularities in the SHAXICON data for MAC.

MM:   Escalus.

MND:  prob. Theseus, but with very irregular figures, enormously high
Theseus-"influence" on the post-1594 poems, rather slight
Thesus-"influence" on the post-1594 plays (though still higher than for
other MND characters).

MV:   Somewhat conflicted results:  almost certainly Antonio in all
productions; but Morocco is a second "remembered" role, especially as
manifest in the lexicon of the post-1594 poems and in the 1595-6 plays.
Morocco tends to register its strongest influence on Shakespeare's
writing when Antonio doesn't, and vice versa. No other role in the play
comes close to these two parts in lexical "influence" upon the poet's
post-MV writing. Perhaps Shakespeare alternated roles; he cannot easily
have played both simultaneously, at least not in the Q1 or F1 text.

OTH:  Brabantio.  The Brabantio role is reduced in the (acc. to
SHAXICON, revised) Q1 version; SHAXICON identifies a final "run" of OTH
(1611-13), but it is doubtful that Brabantio was performed by
Shakespeare later than 1612.

PER:  SHAXICON suggests that PER is a very early play (ur-PER), the
palimpsest of which is imperfectly represented by acts I-II of PER-Q.
PER was clearly revised in 1607 by Shakespeare (new or greatly
re-written acts III-V). SHAXICON offers no support for the view of the
Oxford editors that PER-Q represents a Wilkins-Shakespeare
collaboration, yet it leaves open such a possibility insofar as Wilkins
could be shown to have tinkered some with acts I-II while Shakespeare
was rewriting all of acts III-V. (This could be tested by indexing other
texts by Wilkins.) Shakespeare appears to have acted both Antiochus and
(at least when doubling was needed) Simonides, and he may have performed
or read Gower's part from time to time, most notably ca. 1608/9 (cf.
notes on H5-F1, another script for which Shakespeare registers
sporadically high recall of the chorus-role, especially ca.
1608/9--perhaps the company was short-handed in that year). Shakespeare
probably performed Antiochus and Simonides both before and after the
1607 revision, without taking on any wholly new or additonal role after
the new acts (III-V) replaced those in the the ur-PER.

R2:   Gaunt (in I.i - I.iii, II.i), the Gardener (III.iv), the Lord
(IV.i), and probably also the Groom (V.v).  Troublesome dating: SHAXICON
seems to indicate that R2 derives from an earlier play, and that R2 was
revised immediately after 1H4 (but prior to publication of R2-Q1).  This
finding is at odds with all past textual scholarship on the play, which
has been nearly unanimous in viewing R2 as a text begun and completed
ca. 1595.

R3:   Clarence (in I.i, I.iv, and V.iii) and Scrivener (III.vi).
Possibly also Third Citizen (II.iii) in a late revival.

ROM:  Chorus and Friar Lawrence (Chorus-role omitted in late revival, as
per F1).

SEJ (Jonson):  Macro (I.i, II.iii, III.i, IV.ii); probably also (but
less well-marked) Sabinius (I.i, II.iii, III.i, IV.iii), with some
accomodation for a costume change after IV.ii (but Jonson reports in F1
that he has revised Sejanus, which means that this problem at IV.iii.0
may not actually have come up in the performed text).

SHR:  Lord, and perhaps also Pedant.

TGV:  Duke.

TIM:  Poet in TIM-a (representing ur-F1 version, the parts of TIM-F1
customarily ascribed to Shakespeare); no role apparent in TIM-b (widely
supposed to represent Middleton or late-Shakespearean revision; SHAXICON
suggests that  TIM-F1 is a late, unfinished revision (ca. 1613) of a
play first acted in 1601.  TIM-F1 appears not to be a collaborative text
per se.

TIT:  probably but not certainly Aaron (a role uncharacteristic of
Shakespeare and less strongly marked statistically than most other roles
identified in this catalogue).

TMP:  no Shakespeare role apparent

TNK:  no Shakespeare role apparent; insufficent post-TNK sample.

TNT:  Antonio (later adding Valentine [I.i]).

TRO:  perhaps none until 1609; then, Ulysses (a role that seems out of
keeping with the others designated by SHAXICON)

WIV:  In WIV-F1, Ford, but only in two evidently brief runs. The Host in
WIV-Q (which, though a "bad" quarto, appears certainly to antedate the
F1 version).

WT:   Archidamus (I.i), Antigonus (II.i, II.iii, III.iii), and 3rd
Gentleman (V.i).


WHAT DO YOU NEED TO USE SHAXICON:

1. Patience.

2. Disk space. In its present form, SHAXICON sucks up 40+ megs just for
the raw data, plus another 20 megs or so for the commentary, help files,
and graphics; plus another 20 megs or so for the software.  But don't
start erasing those electronic games just yet in order to make room for
it. The main database for SHAXICON is now complete, purged of errors,
and generally usable; but it's not yet ready for prime time: SHAXICON
now runs on ETC Word-Cruncher, which is limited in its capabilities and
requires way-too-much manual labor (keying in lexical searches, etc.). =

We're now using Excel for the summary figures and graphics, which is a
big time-saver-but we're likely to change over, prior to publication, to
a slicker and more fully automated database-management system so that
SHAXICON is more user-friendly in ALL respects.  I'm inquiring after
Oracle, 4D, and Fox.  If anyone out there has suggestions, I'd be
obliged to hear them.

In advance of publication we're drawing on the expertise of people in
various fields so that when it's finally distributed SHAXICON will be
fully intelligible even to those users without expertise in computers,
statistics, and/or textual scholarship.  I'm shooting for 1996
publication, but cannot guess what technical problems may arise in the
interim.  CD-rom may be too slow to be practicable, but disk-space may
otherwise be a problem for many users.

I am eager to familiarize other scholars with SHAXICON, and will be
available next year to give a talk or seminar if there are interested
parties in your department. Next week I'll be in Santa Barbara, where
I'll be presenting SHAXICON at the ACH/ALLC conference.  Hope to see you
there.

Thanks for your interest.
Don Foster

I hope this helps.  If not, check out
http://vassun.vassar.edu/~foster;   that should help.  (Click on, if I
remember straight, SHAXICON notebook from the table of contents.)

[2]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Gabriel Wasserman <
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 >
Date:           Friday, 04 Apr 1997 11:18:42 -0500
Subject: 8.0412  Re: SHAXICON
Comment:        Re: SHK 8.0412  Re: SHAXICON

Those two things were both responses to things I posted.  I think I'm
going to discuss (how DO you spell "disscus-I know it's not "discus"-I'm
not talking about frizbees!) both of them.  First of all, what exactly
IS an "auxiliary test" in SHAXICON lingo ("shaxiconese", if I may!)? =

Second, if SHAXICON "decides" that a particular work IS by Shakespeare,
why doesn't it include its words in the 12-word cutoff.  Fourth, why are
the non-dramatic poems only used for "auxiliary tests"?  Fifth, does
SHAXICON count the words of the "dedications" to Southampton for *Luc*
and *Ven*, or the *argument* in *Luc*?  Sixth, if the music was
murdering the rhythm, and it was a bad hymn, wouldn't it be GOOD to
follow the adc\vice of the second teacher?  (By the way, so that we
don't have to call them "first teacher" and second teacher, I'll tekk
you their names:  Dan T. and Chaim F.  For protection of privacy I won't
tell you their full last names.)  And last of all, why doesn't anyone
ever answer my question about whether anyone in the past has ever
formulated a theory about whether Moli=E9re's *The Would Be Gentleman* is=

based on *Love's Labour's Lost*!!!!!!?

Gabriel Z. Wasserman

P.S.:  If I want to give someone a good biography of Shakespeare for
their birthday (I swear that this is a PURELY hypothetical case), which
one should I get them.  I know MY favorite one is Sams's one, but most
people don't have my strange tastes.  Should I get the Schoenbaum, the
Lee, the Malone, or Should I write my own.  (By the way, my hypothetical
gift receiver is between the ages of zero and five hundred.)

[3]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Patrick Gillespie <
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 >
Date:           Saturday, 5 Apr 1997 11:05:59 -0500
Subject:        SHAXICON, the Elegy & Edmund Ironside

The thing to keep in mind, is that SHAXICON analyzes just a part of the
spectrum that may or may not define an author's work as *that* author's
work, albeit a very rigorous sampling. Although I've now read Foster's
work on the Elegy, and am as forcefully struck as Foster by the
parallels found in the elegy and Shakespeare's works, such elements as
are *not* examined by SHAXICON continue to contradict.

Edmund Ironside, examined by Sams in "Shakespeare's Edmund Ironside" is
a case in point. Sams, setting aside his tone of voice (which Jonathan
Hope describes as smacking of nineteenth century monomania),
nevertheless makes a rigorous and thorough argument in favor of
Shakespeare's authorship using a very different set of criteria than
Foster's SHAXICON. Which set of criteria, when they disagree, holds more
weight? In light of this question, I would enjoy an opinion on the Elegy
from someone like Sams or Hope. I suspect Sams' criteria would suggest
that Shakespeare was *not* the author - where is the natural world so
prevalent in all of Shakespeare's other writings? - for example.

Anyway, Edmund Ironside is interesting because, as far as I know, it is
one of a few apocryphal works on which all three authors (Foster, Hope,
Sams) have published opinions, and they all come to somewhat different
conclusions. Sams finds the whole of it Shakespeare's.

Jonathan Hope writes (The Authorship of Shakespeare's Plays): "As has
been stated, Edmund Ironside is one of only three non-canonical plays to
fall within the range of the Shakespearean comparison sample for
auxiliary 'do' use. No individual scene in the play gives an
un-Shakespearean result, and the auxiliary 'do' evidence is entirely
compatible with Shakespearean authorship of the whole text of the play."
Hope then goes on to say that "Edmund Ironside" "certainly stands as a
strong candidate for further detailed examination of possible
Shakespearean authorship."

Foster's conclusions are as stated below...

Patrick

>*Edmund Ironside*

Don Foster believes this was written by Robert Greene, though I haven't
seen his evidence in detail.
[Editor's Note: The attachment was not an ASCII file.]

[4]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           David J. Kathman <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 > =

Date:           Sunday, 6 Apr 1997 15:29:19 +0100
Subject: 8.0417  Q: SHAXICON
Comment:        Re: SHK 8.0417  Q: SHAXICON

John V. Robinson wrote:

>>I'm confused.  How can, or does, SHAXICON indicate that Shakespeare act=
ed a certain role in a certain play?<<

First, why don't I quote from Don Foster's article on SHAXICON which
appeared on SHAKSPER on July 6, 1995, and which is now available (in
revised form) on both Don Foster's web page
(http://vassun.vassar.edu/~foster) and on the Shakespeare Authorship web
site (http://www.bcpl.lib.md.us/~tross/ws/will.html):

"What SHAXICON demonstrates is that the rare-words in Shakespearean
texts are not randomly distributed either diachronically or
synchronically, but are "mnemonically structured."  Shakespeare's active
lexicon as a writer was systematically influenced by his reading, and by
his apparent activities as a stage-player.  When writing, Shakespeare
was measurably influenced by plays then in production, and by particular
stage-roles most of all.  Most significant is that, while writing, he
disproportionately "remembers" the rare-word lexicon of plays
concurrently "in repertory"; and from these plays he always registers
disproportionate lexical recall (as a writer) of just one role (or two
or three smaller roles); and these remembered roles, it can now be
shown, are most probably those that Shakespeare himself drilled in stage
performance."

Roughly, the way it works is this.  You take a play, say *Hamlet*, and
isolate the rare words (i.e. words used by Shakespeare 12 times or fewer
in the canonical plays) contained in the text.  It turns out that these
words appear disproportionately often in those other Shakespeare plays
which were written around the same time as *Hamlet*, even when they have
very different subject matter (e.g. *Twelfth Night*).  The influence of
*Hamlet*'s rare words eventually tapers off, but then these words start
reappearing disproportionately in Shakespeare's writings several years
later.  The inference is that *Hamlet* was revived for performance at
this time, and that Shakespeare reacquainted himself with the play as
his company rehearsed and performed it.  This inference is supported by
the fact that in every case where we have documentary evidence of a
revival of one of Shakespeare's plays, this corresponds exactly with a
revival identified by SHAXICON's rare-word patterns.

But that's not all.  Shakespeare also acted in his own plays, and his
use of vocabulary allows us to reconstruct with some confidence the
roles he played.  For example, take the example of *Hamlet* again. =

Using SHAXICON, you can go through each of the other plays one by one,
making a list of the rare words which occur both in that play and in
*Hamlet*.  In the plays written earlier than *Hamlet*, the shared rare
words are divided proportionally among all the characters; that is, if a
character speaks 5 percent of the words in *Hamlet*, he will also speak
roughly 5 percent of the rare words shared by the two plays.  In the
plays written after *Hamlet*, though, the shared rare words are
disproportionately concentrated in the roles of the Ghost and the First
Player.  The inference is that these are the roles Shakespeare memorized
for performance as an actor, but this conclusion is not necessary for
accepting SHAXICON's results; for whatever reason, Shakespeare was
especially familiar with one or two roles in each play, and the
vocabulary of these roles disproportionately affected the vocabulary of
his later writing.  This works remarkably well all across the canon; the
rare-word patterns consistently pick out the same role(s) in each play
as the "Shakespeare-role".  When two are more roles are identified as
Shakespeare's, these are in virtually every case characters who never
appear on stage together and are thus easily doubled; in the few cases
where there is a possible conflict, other evidence indicates that the
text we have is revised.  The two roles which seventeenth century
theater gossip said Shakespeare played in his own plays --- the Ghost in
*Hamlet* and Adam in *As You Like It* --- are both identified by the
rare-word patterns as Shakespeare's roles.  The roles identified as
Shakespeare's are remarkably uniform:  in almost all cases they are
father figures, kings, or allegorical chorus-like figures, and in almost
every case a Shakespeare role is among the first characters to come on
stage, and the first or second to speak.

There's plenty more to be said about SHAXICON, but it will have to wait
until the full SHAXICON notebook is available on the Web.  Meanwhile,
Don Foster's web page, noted above, already has some material available.

Dave Kathman

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