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    #1

    Short story interpretation

    Please, help me understand the following short story. I am not really sure what's going on there:

    (1) "Mamma, will you go to town?"
    (2) "What do you ask for a ticket on your train?"
    (3) "Oh! we will give you a ticket, mamma."
    (4) "About what time will you get back?"
    (5) "At half past eight."
    (6) "Ah! that is after bedtime. Is this the fast train?"
    (7) "Yes, this is the lightning train."
    (8) "Oh! that is too fast for me."
    (9) "What shall we get for you in town, mamma?"
    (10) "A big basket, with two good little children in it."
    (11) "All right! Time is up! Ding, ding!"

    It's clearly about a dialogue between mamma and her children. There is small image depicting mamma sitting on a sofa and two girls dressed up, one actually standing up inside a big wicket basket.

    So, who is going to town? mamma? the children? everyone?, what is the meaning of (2) and (3) and how would you describe the situation in general?

    --

    Just after posting this I got this idea that what's going on is that the girls are playing make-believe with mamma. Still, I can't figure out the meaning of sentence (2), is mamma pretending to be the person that checks your ticket (how do you call this person by the way?). If I am correct that means my questions above have been partially self-answered lol.
    Last edited by pizza; 07-Sep-2011 at 11:47.

  1. 5jj's Avatar
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    #2

    Re: Short story interpretation

    Quote Originally Posted by pizza View Post
    So, who is going to town? mamma? the children? everyone?, what is the meaning of (2) and (3) and how would you describe the situation in general?.
    It's difficult to tell exactly what is going on, as the English is so poor. The second line - (2) "What do you ask for a ticket on your train?" - is incomprehensible to me.

  2. bhaisahab's Avatar
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    #3

    Re: Short story interpretation

    She is asking the price of a ticket. "What (price) do you ask for a ticket...?"
    Last edited by bhaisahab; 07-Sep-2011 at 19:29. Reason: punctuation

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    #4

    Re: Short story interpretation

    I would guess then that it's a game of make-believe.

    The children are going to town.
    I'm not a teacher, but I write for a living. Please don't ask me about 2nd conditionals, but I'm a safe bet for what reads well in (American) English.

  4. bhaisahab's Avatar
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    #5

    Re: Short story interpretation

    Quote Originally Posted by Barb_D View Post
    I would guess then that it's a game of make-believe.

    The children are going to town.
    Yes, I'm sure that's what it is.

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    #6

    Re: Short story interpretation

    Exactly, the girls are running the train, somehow, and they will let mom ride in for free. Clearly, this is a story about corruption. Just kidding.

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    #7

    Re: Short story interpretation

    This story was copied from McGuffey's 1st reader.

    I very recently got myself the whole series of books and I am just reading the second volume now. I can't recommend it enough to English learners.

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    #8

    Re: Short story interpretation

    Quote Originally Posted by pizza View Post
    This story was copied from McGuffey's 1st reader.

    I very recently got myself the whole series of books and I am just reading the second volume now. I can't recommend it enough to English learners.
    After seeing the sample you provided, I do not recommend the series. It may have been fine for teaching native speakers to read but, like most readers in the past, it contains sentences that are not natural spoken forms.

    In real life, the dialogue might be

    (1) Mum/Mom/Mummy, are you going to/into town?
    (2) How much is a ticket/the fare?
    (3) Oh, we'll give you a ticket.
    (4) About what time will you get/be back?
    (5) Half past eight.
    (6) Ah! that's after/past bedtime. Is this the fast train?
    (7) Yes, this is the fast/express train.
    (8) Oh! that's too fast for me.
    (9) "What shall we get for you in town, Mum/Mom/Mummy?
    (10) A big basket, with two good little children.

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    #9

    Re: Short story interpretation

    Thanks for the comments fivejedjon and thanks for posting your version of the story as well. These books were originally published in 1836 (geez, that's 3 decades before the civil war) and I am currently holding a revised 5th edition. Also, this story is from the first reader, specially tailored for primer readers, maybe 5 or 6 year old children. The book has archaisms but the English is correct.

    I would recommend the series if you already know English. Essentially, these books are great if you are interested in deepening your understanding of the language, enriching your literary vocabulary, getting to know the myriad of archaic terms that, albeit rarely used, are still known and understood by natives and gaining insight in the cultural context in which the American English developed.
    Last edited by pizza; 08-Sep-2011 at 14:25.

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    #10

    Re: Short story interpretation

    Quote Originally Posted by pizza View Post
    TThe book has archaisms but the English is correct.
    I would not go so far as to say that "Mamma, will you go to town?" and "What do you ask for a ticket on your train?"were incorrect, but they are very unnatural in this context. Indeed, my first reaction was to think that they had been written by someone whose native language was not English.

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