Jane Austen's peculiarity

Richmond richmondmathewson at gmail.com
Sat Aug 8 22:44:49 CEST 2015


On 08/08/15 23:23, Paul Looney wrote:
> In your last example:
>
> "Mr. Rushworth _was returned_”
>
> “was returned” (singular, past tense, passive)

I'm not sure if that is a passive, or an older form of the past perfect 
(= had returned) ???
> is correct (although a simple “returned” would have been more powerful). There is no conditional, no “if”; as in your first example:
>
> "to inquire if Mr. Wickham_were returned_,"
>
> Haven’t had this much fun with the language in a long time…
>
>
>> On Aug 8, 2015, at 1:07 PM, Richmond <richmondmathewson at gmail.com> wrote:
>>
>> 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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