Archive for the ‘Quotations’ Category

Austenian humblebragging?

August 20, 2014

Another quotation from Jane Austen (once again via Chris Ambidge), this time from a letter of 11 December 1815 to James Stanier Clarke, about Austen’s novel Emma.

Surely this is false modesty — and couched as a boast, so that it looks like what we’d now call humblebragging.


Jane spends our money

July 24, 2014

(Not about language, but another entertaining quotation from Jane Austen, passed on to me by Chris Ambidge.)


From a letter of April 18, 1811, from Jane to her elder sister Cassandra.

Jane on correspondents

July 6, 2014

Another quotation postcard from Jane Austen (from Chris Ambidge), this time with some genuine linguistic interest:

Chris disagreed with the quotation (he and I are dependable correspondents, at least for one another) — but then this is not an expression of Jane’s own opinion, but a statement by one of her characters, which is quite a different thing. From Austen’s unfinished novel Sanditon, which is about (among other things) the creation of a new English seaside town in the early 19th century.


Two cards

May 29, 2014

On Tuesday, Ned Deily and I were investigating the workings of my scanner, after it had behaved  oddly for me on several occasions (garbage on scanning some black-and-white images, very odd colors when scanning some Jane Austen colored cards). The problem was traced back to some scanner settings I hadn’t known were there, so we re-set those and tried scanning one card of each type, using items I’d gotten in the mail (from Chris Ambidge). Herewith the results.


Jane on Xmas Eve

May 19, 2014

Another quotation from Jane Austen (again, thanks to Chris Ambidge) — this time from a letter written on Xmas Eve 1798:


Chris reminds me that Jane Austen was the daughter of a parish priest, which (I suppose) would put her in a postion to long for release from being agreeable, especially in seasons of celebration..

Jane Austen speaks again

May 10, 2014

More quotations from Jane Austen (passed on by Chris Ambidge). As before, not much linguistics.

From Mansfield Park:


And from Emma:


Oh my, foolish preparation, draining the actual event.

Formulaic: Zippy, OBH

May 4, 2014

Two Sunday cartoons touching on formulaic language: a Zippy with clichés, a One Big Happy with a familiar quotation in a German accent:


The line between clichés and idioms is not always clear (and I’m not at all sure that making the distinction clearer would be particularly useful): I’d class have a frog in one’s throat and zip your lip, for instance, as idioms.


The German heavy from a bad movie, with a standard line.

Jane Austen with nothing to say

April 5, 2014

Another quotation from Jane Austen, in a letter of 1/21/1801:


(Thanks again to C hris Ambidge.)

The advantage of having nothing to say.

It was the best of sentences …

March 29, 2014

On NPR on the 26th, a piece about memorable sentences, from The American Scholar:

Have you ever had a sentence stop you in your tracks? Editors at The American Scholar magazine have put out their list of the “Ten Best Sentences” in fiction and nonfiction. Associate editor Margaret Foster says the inspiration came from water cooler talk around the office.

Examples from F. Scott Fitzgerald, Joan Didion, James Joyce, Jane Austen, and Truman Capote, plus an interesting collection of suggestions by commenters.

Two Bizarros and two New Yorkers

March 26, 2014

Fropm the recent comics crop, two Bizarros (one old, one new) and (via Arne Adolfsen) two recent New Yorker cartoons, a Roz Chast and a Tom Cheney,



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