Questions tagged [literary-english]

Questions related to English vocabulary, forms, phrases, and syntax that is now more commonly seen in written literature than in everyday speech.

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70 views

Is the Usage “I are” proper English?

So I'm reading a 19th-century novel called The Count of Monte Cristo, and I came across this particular usage, which is: [H]e continued," let us make all possible speed. I are most anxious to ...
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1answer
23 views

The bigger the tree, the further the fruit falls

I overheard this once, but can't seem to find the origin of this quote. I checked Bartlet, Times, Yale, and Oxford, so I'm positive I heard it wrong. It might have been "the taller the tree."...
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1answer
29 views

Definition of 'cut out in'

I was reading 'The Hound of the Baskervilles' for the sake of improving my English and have not found the definition of the phrasal verb in bold: ‘I don’t know much about the tariff and things of ...
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1answer
44 views

Where should the words 'In real life' be put?

Which of these sentences is correct? In real life, do we have anything close to the robots showed in Westworld? Do we, in real life, have anything close to the robots showed in Westworld? Do we have ...
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1answer
24 views

Intial letter of words in literature distribution

I am working on a project right now and I need a particular piece of information, hopefully, this is the right place to ask. I want to know the relative frequency/distribution of the first letter of ...
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0answers
49 views

What does “He is so odd a mixture of” mean?

The following passage is from Pride and Prejudice. Mr. Bennet was so odd a mixture of quick parts, sarcastic humour, reserve, and caprice, that the experience of three and twenty years had been ...
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36 views

Future of English [closed]

I would like to know if there are any theories about the future evolution of the english language (phonetics, structure, etc)
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1answer
47 views

English Word Hunting [duplicate]

My question: Is there any word in English (generically speaking) that have something like this: In our language (Filipino), there's some words that if you subtracted or added a character to it will ...
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1answer
202 views

thyself = yourself, what is the equivalent of *others*?

Is there a Shakespeare style of saying others? Example: Know yourself, know others Know thyself, know ____ By others I mean other people in general. Could be an intended group but not enemy.
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2answers
217 views

What is the literary term for not keeping a story consistent?

For example, if something is established early on in a story but is contradicted by something else later on, almost as if the detail was forgotten.
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0answers
46 views

Why “him” in “For neuer resting time leads Summer on / To hidious winter and confounds him there, …” instead of it or her?

There is a passage in William's V sonnet that confounds me : For neuer resting time leads Summer on, To hidious winter and confounds him there, Sap checkt with frost and lustie leau's quite gon. ...
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51 views

What's the origin of the phrase “fatal dower”?

I recently ran across the phrase "Constantine's fatal dower," which sounded like a quotation, so I googled it. The specific reference to Constantine that started my quest comes from Canto XIX of ...
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3answers
98 views

Is 'faithless' a literary version of 'unfaithful' (in the context of a spouse)?

Microsoft® Encarta® 2009. defines 'faithless' as: faithless, (of a spouse): unfaithful (literary) Is 'faithless' really the literary term for 'unfaithful', unlike unfaithful which would supposedly ...
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1answer
106 views

Rase: another spelling of raze (literary) [closed]

Is the spelling using s as opposed to z really literary as the Microsoft® Encarta® 2009 purportedly explains? Raze 1. completely destroy place: to destroy or level a building or settlement ...
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6answers
3k views

Is there any word for a place full of confusion?

I am searching for a word for a place which is full of confusion. I tried searching but couldn't find any link. This website mentions nothing. https://www.vocabulary.com/dictionary/confused Merriam-...
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1answer
57 views

“This/That is, ” used at the beginning of a sentence to clarify a concept from the previous sentence

According to an English native speaker who works with me, the "This is" bit in the following sentence should be replaced by "That is": In fact, the feature space need not be unique. This is, for a ...
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1answer
445 views

Phrase meaning of equal parts

IN THE CUT-THROAT realm of reality TV, “Wanted Down Under” is a survivor. A daytime fixture that has just finished its 13th season, the BBC documentary follows Britons contemplating relocating to ...
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1answer
109 views

Is it OK to use two consecutive 'that' in a sentence? [duplicate]

Is the usage of 2 consecutive 'that' in the following sentence correct, because it looks a bit odd? Should these be separated by comma perhaps? "While I agree that strength and size definitely gives ...
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1answer
55 views

Is it possible to use present and past in one sentence?

In On The Road Jack admits to Justin W. Brierly that he loves Neal Cassady because he reminds him of his brother, Gerard, who dies when Jack was five years old. Is this grammatical? The first part of ...
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1answer
102 views

Meaning of 'a feller' in “The Adventures of Tom Sawyer”

I would like to ask about the meaning a sentence from the following conversation between Tom and Huck from Chapter 27: "No, not rot him. FIND him! Track the money!" "Tom, we'll never ...
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1answer
51 views

Usage of “it's to”

When I finally wake up, it's to his arm slung over me, holding me close to his chest. The sentence above is the extract of a reading source. What possibly could be the meaning of "it's to..."? ...
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3answers
429 views

Origin of the phrase “poles asunder”?

1906: President Roosevelt and Mr. Hearst stand as far as the poles asunder. 1899: Two writers of Marrano origin, wide as the poles asunder in gifts of mind and character ... 1795: ... they were ...
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1answer
208 views

Word for a person who is overly demanding of artists

I'm trying to recall the word used to describe someone tyrannically demanding of talent/artists/actors. A despot. Singali? Pretty sure it's the name of a character from a book. Maybe killed them in ...
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2answers
2k views

Why is it “Who be ye?” and not “Who are ye?” in archaic forms of English?

When I was looking for “ye” in a dictionary, I stumbled upon the phrase “Who be ye?”. But why is it “Who be ye?” and not “Who are ye?”? The modern equivalent of “ye” would be “you”, wouldn’t it? “Who ...
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3answers
146 views

Thematic comparison of 'collaborative' vs 'collective' in literature or culture

I'm trying to brand a product with either the word 'collaborative' or 'collective', but I am having trouble imagining what the well known thematic usage is with either word. I've always seen them ...
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2answers
1k views

Do people actually address their male child “Son” rather than a name, in real life English, or is this mainly a written English usage?

I regularly see films, books, stories and other English usages in which a person uses the term "son" where one might normally use a name. Usually, it's a father and they're portrayed in a reasonably ...
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2answers
5k views

Is this sentence from Orwell's Animal Farm grammatically sound?

Should been really have been included in the following passage from George Orwell’s Animal Farm, or was this somehow an erroneous insertion of a spurious word? Illustration from p. 17 of the 1990 ...
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2k views

Pride and Prejudice, what does: “decline the office, I will take it on myself” mean?

"I honour your circumspection. A fortnight's acquaintance is certainly very little. One cannot know what a man really is by the end of a fortnight. But if we do not venture somebody else will; and ...
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7answers
11k views

What is this strange sentence by Walt Whitman?

The future is no more uncertain than the present. —Walt Whitman This is supposed to mean "The future is certain, just like the present." But it means the opposite... I learnt in school that no more ...
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120 views

“How will history remember” vs “How history will remember”? [duplicate]

Context: there is a war going on. Actual use: A difficult winter is heading their way. But Jonas means to change all that. He finds himself wondering how will history remember this day. MS Word ...
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1answer
671 views

What does “to fall to upon” mean here?

And they fell to upon their frugal supper. (From Vanity Fair) I can only find either to fall to, or to fall on / upon, but never to fall to on / upon.
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1answer
682 views

Is “Light of moon and ray of star” an idiom?

What is the literary device used for the following quote from The Fellowship of the Ring : By light of moon and ray of star I think that it is an idiom.... I may be wrong!
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Name of part of Cormac McCarthy's writing style [duplicate]

Cormac McCarthy has several idiosyncracies in his writing style, but I'm looking for the name of a specific style he employs: When he joins together several actions or clauses with "and". Example ...
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1answer
182 views

Confusing sentence in an 1858 novel by George MacDonald

I’m not a native English speaker, and I was reading George MacDonald’s fantasy novel of 1858 Phantastes: A Faerie Romance for Men and Women. Everything was going fine but suddenly I saw this ...
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1answer
604 views

Is “forsought” right in this case?

I was trying to write a poem in an old fashioned way and I wished to use the verb forseek in a verse, but when I searched about this verb I found that it isn't widely used not even in old texts (if it ...
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1answer
713 views

'Seems to have got'

Is there anything odd about the following sentence? 'It seems to have got colder.' I am not a native English speaker. I came across this sentence in a book (Orwell's 1984) recently and am not able ...
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1answer
3k views

Why isn't it appropriate to use an exclamation point in an essay? And how can I get around that? [closed]

I am currently writing a research essay for my English twelve class, and we are not allowed any exclaimation points whatsoever. But this one sentence is something I feel absolutely requires it! HELP: ...
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0answers
16 views

Where can I ommit “a” and “the” articles? [duplicate]

Should I allways use "a" article, when something is indefinite? And should I allways use "the" article, when something is definite? Where can I ommit these articles?
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4answers
660 views

What is the name of the term for character facial expressions showing meaning in a play?

Last year I learnt the term for a character's facial expressions showing the audience what they feel, as well as their tone of voice in the stage directions when reading a play. I am currently writing ...
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1answer
5k views

Is there any relation between the meanings of the word “cataract”?

Oxford defines "cataract" as "a steep waterfall" as well as gives the more common meaning of the word i.e. the medical condition that causes a loss of sight. Also, "cataract", as meaning "waterfall",...
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2answers
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What do you call someone who (over)uses archaic terms and expressions while writing?

I came across a literary article from one of my cousin's numerous English books. The author, in what I presume to be an effort to showcase their vocabulary and command over English, seems to have ...
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1answer
237 views

Help explain what “miseries were as vast as the sky” mean [closed]

I'm totally confused about the use of this phrase in this situation: After Margaret Sanger saw the worst of many women who had to do abortion with abortionists, they suffered from physical pains ...
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1answer
2k views

A word for someone that loves learning/ curious, has wonder about the world In general [duplicate]

I need a word that describes the love of learning, discovering, or it could even be a word that describes a curious person.
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2answers
229 views

The fine line between stilted and sloppy

I received a comment to one of my questions that I would like to elaborate on. Because the inversion of word order in the original makes it sound a little stilted The original question yielded two ...
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1answer
4k views

What is it called when some pronounces their “s” sounds sharply

I've long noticed that when it comes to pronouncing words containing an "s" sound, their are those that pronounce it softly and those that pronounce it sharply. I have always wanted to put a name to ...
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7answers
5k views

What do we call 'Shakespearean trash-talk'?

A classic example: In the opening scene of Richard II, Henry Bolingbroke and Mowbray seeks the adjudication of the king. They hurl accusations of treachery and cowardliness at each other. They ...
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1answer
59 views

Help formulating: an object is held on the forearm, leaning against the breast

There's simply no way I can think of formulating this in a nice way :(. I got a character in my short story that's carrying a heavy cube. I want to say that the cube is leaning on her breast. You know,...
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3answers
10k views

What does it mean by “bondsman's two hundred and fifty years of…” in Lincoln's 2nd inaugural adress?

I'm not sure who is the bondsman and why his wealth matters here. Here is the quote, from the paragraph of Lincoln's Second Inaugural Address Yet, if God wills that it continue until all the ...
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4answers
6k views

Why did English change so much between Chaucer and Shakespeare?

My inexpert perception of things is that the distance between The Canterbury Tales (end 14th century) and Romeo and Juliet (end 16th), from a language perspective, is vast, and vastly greater than the ...
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3answers
10k views

Therefore vs. wherefore [closed]

I saw these words in The Silmarillion: Then there was unrest among the Ainur; but Ilúvatar called to them, and said: ‘I know the desire of your minds that what ye have seen should verily be, not ...