By revealing the Absolute, clarification was obtained.
Posted by Caroline on March 21, 1998 at 20:18:17:
I am not a linguist. Language is a blunt instrument with which I get what I want in the world, and the fact that I am reasonably adept at more than one language has always been the result of necessity, not ability. The question(s) I am about to ask may require answers beyond my understanding, so I ask them with trepidation.
Jane Austen has occasionally been accused, by people who supposedly know, of using a rather odd sentence structure. It doesn't worry me; I like her sentence structure, but actors complain about it, critics make (tiny ) groans about it, and it certainly causes addicts to be misunderstood when they use her words in an un-Pemberley context;-) But until now, I have been reasonably content with just liking it for its own sake, and not taxing my brain with too much" how"and "why." If It's explained in front of me, fine. If not, I just lie back and enjoy it, so to speak.
This attitude was the main cause of my hate-hate relationship with Latin. Throughout the five years of schooling that got me as far as "O" level, my basic modus operandi was :- If you don't know what to do with it - bung it in the Ablative! That doesn't mean that I don't appreciate the brevity and precision which Latin offers a scholar, only that I don't take advantage of it any more than I have to.
Yesterday, I was catching up on my Austen-L, and I had one of those "Road to Ephasus" clarifications when I read the March 17th discussions on JA's use of the Ablative Absolute. I recognised my old friend, who'd got me through Pliny and Virgil and Ovid-with-the-good-bits-taken-out . So here's my two questions;
1. Is the Ablative Absolute a normal part of the English language and I just never noticed? Or part of eighteenth century English, but forgotten now?
2. If it is not a normal usage of English, where did Jane Austen learn to use it? Where did this lady, who it, is commonly supposed, did not have a classical education, find such a structure? From her father? from her brothers?
Caroline, ( who has to think of something elevating whilst dealing with a dead pet mouse.)
- Ablative Absolute sentence construction Laura W 21:31:51 4/20/98 (0)
- Personally, I eschew obfuscation. (nfm) Marie Bernadette 15:54:55 4/08/98 (0)
- Oh, dear! Jessamyn 13:41:23 3/23/98 (0)
- at the risk of sounding like a complete idiot. P. Bingham 03:05:39 3/22/98 (3)
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