K.C. Phillipps, in his book Jane Austen’s English (1970: 51), identified a usage problem in Jane Austen’s language:
“The one usage to which the [sic] purist might object is infer in the sense of ‘imply’, though the NED [now OED] (infer 4) has several instances of this:
An alacrity and cheerfulness which seemed to infer that she could taste no greater delight. (Sense and Sensibility 144).”
Analysing Jane Austen’s language for my forthcoming book on the language of her letters, I learnt that her usage should never be underestimated, so I wonder if she did this deliberately. Any views on this?