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    #1

    harkening back to another age

    Dear teachers,

    Would you be kind enough to tell me whether I am right with my interpretation of the expression in bold in the following excerpt from a movie script?

    Here is an old black-and-white photograph, with that sepia caste harkening back to another age.

    hark back = return to a previous point

    harkening back to another age = speaking of its belongings to another generation

    Thanks for your efforts.

    Regards,

    V

  1. BobK's Avatar
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    #2

    Re: harkening back to another age

    Not quite (as regards 'hark back'). The photograph doesn't return to the earlier point, it evokes aspects of it.

    Also, I've never met 'harkening'; it's quite an effective neologism though (on the analogy of 'darkening' - beginning to get dark), so I wouldn't be surprised if someone had made it up, with the meaning 'beginning to evoke'; nor would it surprise me if other people had adopted it as a real word (which is one way for real words to become real, really )

    b

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    #3

    Re: harkening back to another age

    Hi BobK,

    Thank you for your judicious at first sight ascertainments. I agree absolutely with your statement that the photograph doesn't return to the earlier point and it evokes aspects of it, but in my humble opinion, in the present case was speaking of the very essence of the photograph, and not for its contents. The key phrases in the present sentence are “old black-and-white photograph” and “sepia caste” that may return you to a previous point in the time.

    In regard to your prejudice against existing of the phrase “harkening back to another ago” there is no doubt about that the phrase in question exist in the living English, because I have heard it with my ears and seen with my eyes, in spite of your Puritan elimination.

    V.

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    #4

    Re: harkening back to another age

    "Harkening back" is a phrase with which I am familiar.

  2. BobK's Avatar
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    #5

    Re: harkening back to another age

    Quote Originally Posted by SoothingDave View Post
    "Harkening back" is a phrase with which I am familiar.
    Some Google numbers:

    Worldwide: 201,000 for 'hark back': about 3 times more common than 'harken back (73,900)

    UK only: 17,400 for 'hark back': more than 20 times more common than 'harken back (853)

    Bottom line: If you're learning English, the vast majority of speakers know the shorter version; many people will regard the longer version as a mistake - especially from the mouth or pen of a second language speaker. As I said, I've never met 'harkening'. It turns out to be less uncommon than I thought; I still think it's a bad choice for a learner.

    b

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