Questions tagged [literature]

Questions citing excerpts from works of literature.

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95
votes
124answers
64k views

What words are commonly mispronounced by literate people who read them before they heard them?

Quite a few words are mispronounced by under-educated people, or people learning English as a second language. Some words are often mispronounced by quite educated people who read, and began reading ...
29
votes
6answers
11k views

What great writers have used coordinating conjunctions at the start of sentences?

I had a discussion today with a friend over the validity of using (coordinating, correlative) conjunctions like but or and at the start of sentences. His position was that it breaks a rule of grammar....
11
votes
2answers
36k views

What is the etymology of “…kick ass and take names”?

Inspired by What is this idiom: "I'm going to start taking names and..."?, but that question doesn't actually ask for where the expression originated. I Googled around, but couldn't find ...
11
votes
5answers
1k views

What does Maugham mean by “his spaghetti were”? [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: Was the usage "Spaghetti were" ever acceptable or common? [Following up from, but not a duplicate of, this question by another user, which was unresolved…] Somerset ...
8
votes
1answer
2k views

Sam Weller in The Pickwick Papers: What accent is Dickens portraying?

In Dickens' Pickwick Papers, there's a character "Sam Weller". Weller's dialogue is written somewhat phonetically, I presume, but I'm struggling to understand what accent Dickens is trying to portray. ...
9
votes
3answers
2k views

“just because… doesn't mean…”

It appears to me that the construction "just because… doesn't mean…" isn't used in literature at all. Is its use limited to colloquial speech and informal writing? Note that while some people seem to ...
18
votes
5answers
3k views

Tolkien and archaic English [closed]

I once read that JRR Tolkien, a linguist by profession and of The Lord of the Rings fame, wrote his masterpiece using elements of archaic English to emulate the Bible. Following a question on writers....
8
votes
1answer
7k views

Literature: 'Why' at the beginning of sentences [duplicate]

I’m currently reading George Martin’s A Song Of Ice And Fire novels in English. As a non-native speaker (I’m German), I stumbled upon some grammatical constructs that I’ve never seen before, one of ...
5
votes
4answers
640 views

Where can I find a modern English version of King James’s “Counterblaste to Tobacco”?

I find A Counterblaste to Tobacco by James I very interesting. Many people are under the impression that anti-tobacco sentiment began in the last century, and this document pretty thoroughly refutes ...
9
votes
2answers
445 views

What’s the history of the adjective “dwarven”?

A simple Google seach will show that many people use “dwarven” as an adjective meaning “of or related to dwarves”. People can say things like “very dwarven”. But not many dictionaries list this ...
4
votes
2answers
662 views

Literary device: frequently referenced object which never appears

What do you call an object or a person which is frequently referenced but never actually appears? For example, Godot from ‘Waiting for Godot’?
3
votes
3answers
1k views

What gender is generally associated with “toad” characters in English fiction and folklore?

The common noun for a toad ("жаба") is of female gender in Russian. Out of all the English literature that I have read, I can remember only one toad-like character: Mr. Toad from The Wind in The ...
3
votes
4answers
11k views

What is the definition of “solipsized?”

It seems like only "Lolita" uses this word. According to Google, solipsism is "the view or theory that the self is all that can be known to exist." From this definition, I conclude that for one to ...
1
vote
1answer
422 views

Is “as (adjective) as (adjective)” acceptable usage?

For idiosyncratic reasons of euphony and metre, I want to write (something like) "She wore round her neck many gems, as beautiful as rare." I feel in my bones that this formulation, "... as (...
1
vote
2answers
1k views

English books reading complexity ratings

Is there some rating for book regarding how hard they are to read for foreigners? Or the way to figure out how more difficult is book A than book B? I have begun reading "All The King's Men" and ...
0
votes
2answers
107 views

The meaning of Robinson Crusoe’s “and without with turf”

Towards night, I fixed upon a proper place, under a rock, and marked out a semicircle for my encampment ; which I resolved to strengthen with a work, wall, or fortification, made of double piles, ...