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Bill_T
Posts: 366
Registered: ‎03-20-2007
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An Austen Vocabulary

One of the things I love about David Shapard's edition is the way he draws our attention to the changes in meaning that have altered many words between Austen's day and our own. When we read a writer of the Middle Ages or the Renaissance, we are perhaps unsurprised to find their usage quite different than our own -- partly because we often have to work hard or consult a scholarly aid even to hazard a guess at the meaning.

But the distinctions between the language used in Austen's world and our own are more subtle. Words like "sensible," "evil" and "intelligence" mean one thing to Austen, and another in our everyday use. Others, like "nice" are sometimes used in the way we think of today (meaning "pleasant"), but also can have a long-outdated meaning ("particular").

What words have given you pause in reading Pride and Prejudice? What discoveries of an evolving meaning have surprised you?
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Everyman
Posts: 9,216
Registered: ‎10-19-2006
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Re: An Austen Vocabulary

[ Edited ]
One of the things that always makes me stop is the use of eat as a past tense verb instead of ate. It always gives me a little mental jar, and I have to stop and say, okay, she's not ignorant of grammar, that was correct back then.

When I think about it logically, it makes sense -- after all, we say we ate dinner, not eat dinner, but we have eaten, not have aten, dinner. But it still gives me that mental tweak every time it shows up.

Message Edited by Everyman on 06-13-2007 05:38 PM
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Laurel
Posts: 5,747
Registered: ‎10-29-2006
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Re: An Austen Vocabulary



Everyman wrote:
One of the things that always makes me stop is the use of eat as a past tense verb instead of ate. It always gives me a little mental jar, and I have to stop and say, okay, she's not ignorant of grammar, that was correct back then.

When I think about it logically, it makes sense -- after all, we say we ate dinner, not eat dinner, but we have eaten, not have aten, dinner. But it still gives me that mental tweak every time it shows up.

Message Edited by Everyman on 06-13-2007 05:38 PM




And when you hear a Brit pronounce it, it's even more boggling.
"Truth must of necessity be stranger than fiction, for fiction is the creation of the human mind, and therefore is congenial to it." ~~G.K. Chesterton
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Everyman
Posts: 9,216
Registered: ‎10-19-2006
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Re: An Austen Vocabulary



Laurel wrote:
And when you hear a Brit pronounce it, it's even more boggling.

Well, since Henry Higgins revealed all, everybody knows that the Brits don't speak English any more. :smileyhappy:
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-dagger-
Posts: 9
Registered: ‎06-14-2007
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Re: An Austen Vocabulary

when i first read P&P, the old english phrases and wording definitely threw me off! but i think that by continuing to read the book, it helped me to further understand the language of that era and to be able to comprehend it. reading P&P was definitely a learning experience!
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