Tag Archives: Jane Austen

Was she American after all?

Last week, my book In Search of Jane Austen: The Language of the Letters (OUP, 2014) came out. I’ve already commented on this blog on the very interesting editorial process, which resulted in some changes that I wasn’t too happy about. … Continue reading

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Jane Austen and imply and infer

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 … Continue reading

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Eenermost: a gross corruption?

In the one instance in which this word occurs in Jane Austen’s letters it doesn’t mean what the spelling appears to suggest (innermost?): he said the fleas were so starved when he came back from Chawton that they all flew … Continue reading

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Burchfield a Jane Austen fan

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R.W. Burchfield (1923-2004) was not only the author of the third edition of Fowler’s Modern English Usage – which Wikipedia labels as a “controversial, substantially rewritten and less prescriptivist” version of the book: he was also responsible for the second Supplement of the … Continue reading

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Jane Austen trying and …

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One of our readers mentioned Jane Austen in relation to an earlier post on the recommendation to avoid try and in favour of try to. Searching the novels for “try and” I found one instance, in Emma: I shall try … Continue reading

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You was in the history of English

One of the corrections in the second edition of Jane Austen’s Mansfield Park, originally published in 1814 but reissued in 1816, includes you was. This change was recorded by Kathryn Sutherland in her comparison of the two editions of the novel (Penguin … Continue reading

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Does incorrect spelling matter?

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“… who moved differently then I knew”: this is a quotation from the website announcing the film Pina by Wim Wenders (UK release 22 April 2011). The error, then for than, is a typical Dutch mistake, according to Joy Burrough-Boenisch in her … Continue reading

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Flat adverbs

“Flat Adverbs” are defined by the OED as follows: “Not distinguished by a characteristic ending, as an adverb which has the same form as an adjective or substantive, or a substantive used as an adjective” (OED, s.v. flat, adj., adv. … Continue reading

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Jane Austen and prescriptivism

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On the subject of what is called singular they (Everyone has their off-days) Mittins et al. write that Jane Austen “uniformly employs this usage”. The authors refer to S.A. Leonard’s Doctrine of Correctness in English Usage (1929) here, where we … Continue reading

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