Results 1 to 7 of 7

Thread: in durance vile

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
    Posts
    59
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default in durance vile

    as you can see in the title, "durance" is a noun, and "vile" is an adjective. why does this adjective endue after the noun. is it just the same with the phrase "something wrong"? and it will be appreciated if someone can tell me the derivation of this phrase. many thanks.

  2. #2
    Soup's Avatar
    Soup is offline VIP Member
    • Member Info
      • Member Type:
      • English Teacher
      • Native Language:
      • English
      • Home Country:
      • Canada
      • Current Location:
      • China
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    Posts
    5,892
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default Re: in durance vile

    "In durance vile" is a very old way of saying "in jail." Imprisoned.

    Although "durance" is today considered an archaic term and its roots are even older, its linguistic cousins, words such as "endure," "duration," "durable" and even "during," are staples of modern English. All these words hark back to the Latin "durus," which originally meant "hard" but also had the extended meaning of "lasting," and "durance," which first appeared in English in the 15th century, originally meant "duration" or "length of existence." The "imprisonment" sense of "durance" developed in the 16th century and referred to the length of the sentence a prisoner had to serve.

    The "vile" in "durance vile" is our modern word, meaning "low, despicable, contemptible, depraved" and similar unpleasant things. "Vile" comes from the Latin "vilem," which meant "cheap, of low value or quality," and this was one of its original meanings when it entered English around 1290.

    Source Columns Posted 04-26-01

    NOUN: Confinement or restraint by force; imprisonment: “There should be a durance vile for justices who use an argument as weak as the one the majority used” (George F. Will).

    durance. The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language: Fourth Edition. 2000.

  3. #3
    Soup's Avatar
    Soup is offline VIP Member
    • Member Info
      • Member Type:
      • English Teacher
      • Native Language:
      • English
      • Home Country:
      • Canada
      • Current Location:
      • China
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    Posts
    5,892
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default Re: in durance vile

    Adjectives can come after the noun without a linking verb, usually after pronouns "something USEFUL" and also in "Governor GENERAL"-type expressions.

    Source Adjective - UniLang Wiki




    Sometimes an adjective does occur immediately after a noun, especially in certain institutionalised expressions:

      • the Governor General
        the Princess Royal
        times past
    We refer to these as POSTPOSITIVE adjectives. Postposition is obligatory when the adjective modifies a pronoun:

      • something useful
        everyone present
        those responsible
    Postpositive adjectives are commonly found together with superlative, attributive adjectives:

      • the shortest route possible
        the worst conditions imaginable
        the best hotel available
    Source Postpositive Adjectives @ The Internet Grammar of English
    Learn more about post-positive adjectives here postpositive adjectives - Google Search

  4. #4
    vil is offline VIP Member
    • Member Info
      • Member Type:
      • Student or Learner
      • Native Language:
      • Bulgarian
      • Home Country:
      • Bulgaria
      • Current Location:
      • Bulgaria
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    Posts
    5,000
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default Re: in durance vile

    Hi Soup,

    In my humble opinion your interpretation “in jail” sounds very softly and ordinarily. I offer to your attention one more adequate interpretation namely “in durance vile = in the gloomy dungeon”.

    Regards.

    V.

  5. #5
    BobK's Avatar
    BobK is offline Harmless drudge
    • Member Info
      • Member Type:
      • English Teacher
      • Native Language:
      • English
      • Home Country:
      • UK
      • Current Location:
      • UK
    Join Date
    Jul 2006
    Posts
    15,572
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default Re: in durance vile

    As for the word order, the position of adjectives in English used not to be as (relatively) fixed as it is now - especially in Scotland (where Rabbie Burns lived - possibly the earliest attested user of the phrase, in the line "In durance vile here must I wake and weep....". Scotland had stong ties with France (where the battle of the word orders - as attested by pairs like Châteauneuf/Neuchâtel - had been decided earlier).

    b

  6. #6
    Soup's Avatar
    Soup is offline VIP Member
    • Member Info
      • Member Type:
      • English Teacher
      • Native Language:
      • English
      • Home Country:
      • Canada
      • Current Location:
      • China
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    Posts
    5,892
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default Re: in durance vile

    Quote Originally Posted by vil View Post
    Hi Soup,

    In my humble opinion your interpretation “in jail” sounds very softly and ordinarily. I offer to your attention one more adequate interpretation namely “in durance vile = in the gloomy dungeon”.

    Regards.

    V.
    Did you miss the bottom of post #2?

  7. #7
    vil is offline VIP Member
    • Member Info
      • Member Type:
      • Student or Learner
      • Native Language:
      • Bulgarian
      • Home Country:
      • Bulgaria
      • Current Location:
      • Bulgaria
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    Posts
    5,000
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default Re: in durance vile

    Hi Soup,

    Sorry. My attention was preoccupied from the opening statement in your original post namely from the brief and casual definition “in jail” (imprisoned) which imagined to me as a definition in an unfinished state.

    I beg your apology for my impulsiveness as well as for my bad habit to scratch the surface of the things.

    Regards.

    V.

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •