How is it that you and Booradley came up with the same title for a thread?
Interested in Language
This is part of the book 'Tale of two cities' and I have a question about the last sentence.
But indeed, at that time, putting to death was a recipe much in vogue with all trades and professions, and not least of all with Tellsonís. Death is Natureís remedy for all things, and why not Legislationís? Accordingly, the forger was put to Death; the utterer of a bad note was put to Death; the unlawful opener of a letter was put to Death; the purloiner of forty shillings and sixpence was put to Death; the holder of a horse at Tellsonís door, who made off with it, was put to Death; the coiner of a bad shilling was put to Death; the sounders of three-fourths of the notes in the whole gamut of Crime, were put to Death.
Who's 'Sounder"?, What's meaning of the last sentence?
Garrow's Law'. I was amazed to know how seriously people were punished whether really guilty or not. (Upon second thought, that might be happening today as well, but at least the process and the representation aspects have improved because of Mr Garrow.)
In the above TV series, I noticed that the use of Old English did not have words ending in 'ing' (or if there were any, I might have missed them). And surprisingly I liked it.
I agree with Tdol's explanation, but perhaps in the following specific context:
In the Tale of Two Cities, Tellson's is a bank. This all connects to Tellson's via money handlers, dealers forgers, or those who had any remote link to the bank.
I think Dickens is ending this paragraph with a phrase typical of his style of Victorian word play by using a dual meaning. One is literal, in Victorian English, the other contains a word play based on music:
the sounders of three-fourths of the notes in the whole gamut of Crime, were put to Death.
1. The "Sounders" (the literal meaning):
"To sound", I believe, although now cannot find any definition for it, was an old term meaning, "to issue something".:
"the issuers of three quarters of the [bank] notes [issued by bankers and forgers] in the whole gamut [range or extent] of Crime, were put to Death".
2. The "Sounders" (the word play meaning):
"To sound", in the sense of somone "sounding, or striking a bell", which also issues notes; musical notes. The multiple word play meaning is:
"the sounders [the musicians or issuers of musical notes] of three-fourths [a play on 3/4 note, which is a particular musical note] of the notes [a general musical note] in the whole gamut of Crime [perhaps in the musical context of something played badly], were put to Death.
So the joke here in the word play meaning is, that even bad musicians were put to death!
Dickens used to love this type of thing, and so did his readers. But then again, they didn't have the internet!
Last edited by Rover_KE; 11-Jul-2015 at 08:34. Reason: Fixing typos.
(BrE first language speaker.)
"In the above TV series, I noticed that the use of Old English did not have words ending in 'ing' (or if there were any, I might have missed them). And surprisingly I liked it."
I'm sure they must have used words ending with the "ing" suffix in that TV series. To my mind, it is one of the main building blocks of the English Language.
This is mentioned on page 279 of this book, ( https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=...ing%22&f=false ) where it is believed Chaucer c1343-1400 ( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Geoffrey_Chaucer ) spoke "Anglo Saxon words with heavy suffixes -ing, -ness(e), and -ess(e)", in a particular way.
There is a certain Anglo-Saxon prince, and proclaimed but uncrowned king, called Edgar the Aetheling c1051 - c1126 http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/atheling
Returning to Garrow's Law now. I Have found a You Tube clip where one of the characters says "...this is a lynching, not a trial".
I wonder why you couldn't hear those "ing" endings? Do you think you had to concentrate more than usual because of the setting in the late 18th century?
Last edited by Eckaslike; 11-Jul-2015 at 02:14. Reason: Pasting missing weblink
(BrE first language speaker.)
Eckaslike, all your points are excellent! I enjoyed reading the explanation about the dual meaning. I did not know this about Dickens' writing. I don't think I would have got the 2nd point reading the text on my own.
I hope the moderators don't mind if I elaborate a bit in response to your points. If it is not appropriate here, I will open a new thread on General Members Discussion.
I should correct myself regarding "Old English". I used it in a rough (informal) sense. But since I capitalized the "o", I should have been more careful. Upon a quick check, I found that Old English (OE) is from the 400s to 1066, Middle English (ME) is from 1066 to the 1400s. But the Garrow's Law series is based on events of the 18th Century, which as I understand is not even Early Modern English, but would fall under Modern English. So, I was completely wrong in writing "Old English". The language did not sound "modern" to me, and hence my use of "old".
You are right, I also watched the clip on youtube and noticed the "... this is lynching..." dialogue. Regarding why I couldn't hear those "ing" endings, it could be that I had to concentrate a lot of the setting (and also the pronunciation). If I am not mistaken (can't give examples now from the TV series), perhaps they use something like "Where do you go?" instead of "Where are you going?". I will have to check again.
However, since it has been a while since I saw the TV series, I am not sure now of what I really heard. Because I found the following (under "Marking tense and number" in the Early Modern English entry on Wikipedia):
"The modern syntax used for the progressive aspect ("I am walking") became dominant by the end of the Early Modern period, but other forms were also common. These included the prefix a- ("I am a-walking") and the infinitive paired with "do" ("I do walk"). Moreover, the to be + -ing verb form could be used to express a passive meaning without any additional markers: "The house is building" could mean "The house is being built.""
If indeed the "ing" form (progressive aspect) became dominant in EME itself, then I may be wrong that it was not in Garrow's Law. I will have to listen to the series again to get some examples.
Sorry for wasting everybody's time.
It may be, that Dickens deliberately used a word that had possibly become archaic but understood in his era, especially because it would make the reader pause and think. That way they wouldn't miss the dual meaning in the 19th century.
The reason, I believe, the OP had so much problem understanding it was that the literal version of the word "sounder" has completely fallen out of use. I think the word meaning of this old word "to sound"="to issue" may have derived from the fact that something comes forth from something else, in the same way that sound issues from a bell.
So, without knowing the literal meaning of the word, you are pretty unlikely to get the second, or "musical", meaning and joke.
This is why people don't get most of the jokes in Shakespeare, unless they are performed by good actors. The actors will often provide visual clues, and speech clues, so that the audience gets the jokes even if they don't understand some of the old words no longer used.
It is why much of Chaucer is virtually unintelligible to most English readers and speakers. The language has moved on so much.
Yes, you are correct, that capital "o" makes a big difference in difference in meaning between, "Old English", and "old English"! This is why the Teachers, Moderators and experienced members are trying to help the students understand how important it can be to use correct punctuation and grammar.
For example: "The bottle of champagne was struck upon the side of the ship, and Queen Elizabeth slid slowly into the river". Without the word "the" makes it sound as though the actual Queen slid into the river.
If you use the: "The bottle of champagne was struck upon the side of the ship, and the Queen Elizabeth slid slowly into the river". This still could mean the Queen, but it is less likely, because would not refer to the Queen in that way in the context of the sentence, and secondly we are used to reading about ships in this way.
However, If you use: "The bottle of champagne was struck upon the side of the ship, and the HMS Queen Elizabeth slid slowly into the river". It should be immediately clear.
There is an even better example which uses the lack of a single comma in the same way as the missing "the". I can't find it unfortunately, but it is considered a classic.
"Where do you go?" instead of "Where are you going?":
Now I can see why you had a problem with it. I think that, probably all first language English speakers around the world watching the programme would instantly get that sort of thing without thinking. The script writers have been very clever. They have kept what appear to be some of the old forms of speech, in order to make the characters work in their late 18th century setting.
"These included the prefix a- ("I am a-walking") and the infinitive paired with "do" ("I do walk").":
I grew up in a very rural county in the West Country, called Somerset. I remember hearing some people, especially from families that had always been there, still using these forms. "Aaam a-gonna go to the shaaaps" = "I'm going to go to the shops". A bit like an AmE drawl, but with a West Country accent!
Similarly, I remember hearing the "I do" form used that you mention: "I der walk to the shaaps" = "I do walk to the shops" = "I walk to the shops"
For a general accent to go with those examples above try to imagine them spoken by Phil Harding, from The Time Team:
He should be pretty understandable, but at its strongest form this sort of West Country accent is almost like this clip, where they go to see a farmer, who appears at o:26 : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5Ng3fG1u4Xg It would have usually been spoken by an old farmer, or their children, who would have this heaviest type of accent. The joke revolves around the fact it is a sleepy rural village or small town, where nothing much ever happens.
These are a three classic sentences in the Somerset dialect. Do you understand them?: "HOW be on? It be a bit dimpsy, bain't it? Gi's a gurt big pint of thee best zider."
I don't, however, remember hearing this form being used: "The house is building" : I expect this form probably died out first, as it is the most confusing because houses can't build, they are built. In addtion, it sounds like a part sentence, "The house is building [up to being knocked down]" and even when you try to use it, it doesn't really work at all.
There a loads of dialect words all over the UK, but one of the two main ones which stick in my head are: "gibbles"="spring onions", and "durn"="a door post", the latter of which I think probably goes back to the Old English period; the time of the epic poem Beowulf. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Beowulf
To the English language, it is probably one the classic Old English epic poems, if not the epic poem; a bit like the Mahabharata and Ramayana are, I believe, in Indian literature: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mahabharata , https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ramayana .
I you want to read it, you definitely want to read a good, modern translation first, so that you enjoy and understand the story. All translations try to focus on keeping the spirit of the original, however, some chose modern English for ease of understanding where all old words are translated. Others prefer to keep the old words, because once you understand them, they believe, it gives more of a flavour of how the original would have sounded.
Here is a good modern translation of part of the poem: http://alliteration.net/beoIndex.htm (N.b. Beowulf is the hero and Grendel is the monster in the story). I realise that you may only want to read part of it to get a sense of it, which is fine of course. If you have any questions I will be happy to try to answer them. Sorry to go on, but as you can tell I really like topics like this.
Thank you for asking such interesting questions!
Last edited by Rover_KE; 12-Jul-2015 at 11:52. Reason: Fixing typo.
(BrE first language speaker.)