Jane Austen's peculiarity

Richmond richmondmathewson at gmail.com
Sat Aug 8 16:07:08 EDT 2015


On 08/08/15 22:56, Paul Looney wrote:
> Richmond,
>
> The key here is the “if” - which creates a conditional clause - which requires the past plural of the verb (in this case “were”). This is similar to the “wenn" clause in German (Deutsch) and the “ut” clause in Latin.
> If I were able, I’d thank you in person for mentioning this.
>
> Paul Looney

I'm not sure anent that:

"He had been visiting a friend in the neighbouring county, and that
friend having recently had his grounds laid out by an improver, Mr.
Rushworth _was returned_ with his head full of the subject, and very eager
to be improving his own place in the same way; and though not saying
much to the purpose, could talk of nothing else."

Jane Austen, "Mansfield Park"

Richmond.
>
>> On Aug 8, 2015, at 9:42 AM, Richmond <richmondmathewson at gmail.com> wrote:
>>
>> Jane Austen [amongst others] uses an interesting type of grammatical construction of this sort:
>>
>> After breakfast, the girls walked to Meryton to inquire if Mr. Wickham
>> _were returned_, and to lament over his absence from the Netherfield ball.
>>
>> Pride and Prejudice.
>>
>> I would like to analyse a million word corpus that I have been granted access to for this type of construction.
>>
>> However, I don't want to find examples of only 'were returned', but all examples of
>>
>> were + infinitive / preterite / past participle
>>
>> and, presumably for that I shall have to use wildcards . . .
>>
>> OR ???
>>
>> Richmond.
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