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Patricia T. O’Conner on Jane Austen's English

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Our word maven, Patricia T. O’Conner, talks about the many contributions Jane Austen made to the English language. She’ll also answer questions about language and grammar.

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Patricia T. O'Conner

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Comments [21]

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Sep. 11 2013 11:31 PM
Luanne Summerour Johnson from Lawton, Oklahoma United Staes

In P&P when Fanny's Mother was being rude about Elinor's hand painted screen, Fanny used the word ain't. Was this unusual? My daughter who is an English Major and a History buff thinks maybe Fanny's family was what could be called new money and her education might have been lacking. I remember taken by surprise the first read. Any input on this would be nice.
(As you can see by my grammar and punjabi on I am not an English Major!)
Thank you,
Luanne

Jul. 22 2013 06:17 PM

Rounders, from which baseball derives, is one of the four Gaelic Athletic Association sports of Ireland, the others being Hurling, Gaelic Football and Handball. There are variations of Rounders played in the UK including Welsh Baseball. Some links here...http://www.irishcentral.com/story/news/irish-media-nation/baseballs-debt-to-a-gaelic-game-learning-about-the-gaa-during-the-alcs-104729739.html

Jul. 17 2013 01:55 PM
Jennifer MacDonald from New York

In Persuasion, Austen wrote something like "All the young people were wild to see Lyme."

Jul. 17 2013 01:55 PM
Edward from NJ

http://www.gutenberg.org/files/121/121-h/121-h.htm

"Mrs. Morland was a very good woman, and wished to see her children everything they ought to be; but her time was so much occupied in lying-in and teaching the little ones, that her elder daughters were inevitably left to shift for themselves; and it was not very wonderful that Catherine, who had by nature nothing heroic about her, should prefer cricket, baseball, riding on horseback, and running about the country at the age of fourteen, to books—or at least books of information—for, provided that nothing like useful knowledge could be gained from them, provided they were all story and no reflection, she had never any objection to books at all. But from fifteen to seventeen she was in training for a heroine; she read all such works as heroines must read to supply their memories with those quotations which are so serviceable and so soothing in the vicissitudes of their eventful lives."

Jul. 17 2013 01:51 PM
Kate from Boerum Hill

Intrigued by the discussion of the mention of baseball in Northanger Abbey - I grew up in England and we played rounders which was a baseball like game with the person who threw the ball and the bases etc. (its been a while and I can't remember the exact language)

Here is the wikipedia entry... http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rounders

Jul. 17 2013 01:49 PM
Clare from Brooklyn, NY

There is a reference to cricket on p. 1 of Northanger Abbey.

Jul. 17 2013 01:45 PM
sanych

She decimated baseball...

Jul. 17 2013 01:44 PM

and google says …in Jane Austen's "Northanger Abbey," refer to the game of "rounders," of which baseball is a more elaborate variety.

Jul. 17 2013 01:43 PM
peter giguere

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/books/3562873/Jane-Austen-wrote-about-baseball-40-years-before-it-http://en.wikipedia.org

Jul. 17 2013 01:40 PM
PCRibeiro


Northanger Abbey and Baseball:
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/books/3562873/Jane-Austen-wrote-about-baseball-40-years-before-it-was-invented.html

Jul. 17 2013 01:39 PM
Alan from Manhattan

From The Telegraph (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/books/3562873/Jane-Austen-wrote-about-baseball-40-years-before-it-was-invented.html):

Jane Austen wrote about baseball 40 years before its official invention, according to a new book. But evidence of the game's British origins was erased from history by the American sports magnate Albert Spalding, according to the book's author Julian Norridge.

Austen mentioned baseball in the opening pages of Northanger Abbey, which she wrote in 1797-8.

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Introducing her tom-boy heroine Catherine Morland, Austen wrote:

"It was not very wonderful that Catherine, who had nothing heroic about her, should prefer cricket, base-ball, riding on horseback, and running about the country at the age of fourteen, to books."

Such a fleeting reference indicated that Austen's readers were familiar with the sport, argued Mr Norridge.

He said: "There's no doubt it was being played in Britain in the late 18th century, and equally no doubt that it travelled to America."

A German book from 1796 also devoted seven pages to the rules of "Englischer Baseball", he added. The first written evidence of the game also comes from the Home Counties, in the form of a diary written by a Guildford teenager called William Bray in 1755.

Mr Norridge said the name base-ball or Base Ball was common across much of southern England, while it might have been called different names elsewhere. But its British roots were ignored by Victorian-era sports tycoon Albert Spalding, who was determined to prove its American heritage.

Mr Norridge said: "He got fed up with the first really well known baseball journalist, a British-born chap called Henry Chadwick, who kept saying the game was based on rounders.

"Spalding set up a special commission to look into the origins of the sport that sat for three years. Then he ignored all that it found."

Instead Spalding, whose names is imprinted on millions of baseballs, readily accepted that baseball was invented by one General Abner Graves in Cooperstown, New York State, in 1839.

Cooperstown became the de facto birthplace of baseball, and home to the Baseball Hall of Fame. Years later a librarian in New York discovered evidence that the story about General Graves was a fabrication and he had "never been to Cooperstown".

Ironically, while Chadwick was right about its geographical origins, the author said he was wrong about its evolution.

"The first printed mention of the word 'rounders' is in 1824," he said.

Mr Norridge argues in his book Can We Have Our Balls Back? that "we accidentally invented the concept of modern sport", codifying rules on games including cricket, golf, and boxing, because people were betting more and more money on them.

Jul. 17 2013 01:39 PM
Theresa from Brooklyn

From first pages of Northanger Abbey:
"and it was not very wonderful that Catherine, who had by nature nothing heroic about her, should prefer cricket, baseball, riding on horseback, and running about the country at the age of fourteen, to books – or at least books of information – for, provided that nothing like useful knowledge could be gained from them, provided they were all story and no reflection, she had never any objection to books at all."

Jul. 17 2013 01:39 PM
Rachel from Manhattan

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/books/3562873/Jane-Austen-wrote-about-baseball-40-years-before-it-was-invented.html

Introducing her tom-boy heroine Catherine Morland, Austen wrote:

"It was not very wonderful that Catherine, who had nothing heroic about her, should prefer cricket, base-ball, riding on horseback, and running about the country at the age of fourteen, to books."

Jul. 17 2013 01:39 PM
mary from nyc

"It was not very wonderful that Catherine, who had nothing heroic about her, should prefer cricket, base-ball, riding on horseback, and running about the country at the age of fourteen, to books."

Jul. 17 2013 01:39 PM
mary from nyc

"It was not very wonderful that Catherine, who had nothing heroic about her, should prefer cricket, base-ball, riding on horseback, and running about the country at the age of fourteen, to books."

Jul. 17 2013 01:38 PM
mary from nyc

"It was not very wonderful that Catherine, who had nothing heroic about her, should prefer cricket, base-ball, riding on horseback, and running about the country at the age of fourteen, to books."

Jul. 17 2013 01:38 PM
john from Toronto

Would you say that Jane Austen was writing down conversational expressions that were in current use in her day, but had been deemed too colloquial to include in a novel?

Jul. 17 2013 01:32 PM

For Ms. Conner's comment - on transitive vs. intransitive verbs:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/george-wentworth/north-carolina-unemployment-insurance-cuts_b_3573678.html

re: Disappear as a transitive verb???? / vs. reality of Argentina, et al.

Jul. 17 2013 01:29 PM
sanych

Words 'to decimate'/'decimation' have become increasingly popular in a context of a near total destruction, while it really means to reduce by ten percent.

Comments?

Jul. 17 2013 12:15 PM
Doug from West Village

I was taught that someone can be an EX-pert jeweler and ex-PERT in performing the work. Friends says they've never heard the word ex-PERT.

Jul. 17 2013 09:43 AM

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