Sorcery and Cecilia and Desert Island books

Anna Z Skarzynska ania at
Thu Jan 13 17:12:55 EST 2005

> I use "got" and "gotten" in the sense of "acquired" quite often.  It's
> perfectly natural to me to use it that way.  I'm American (Southern),
> for reference.  I would read passages such as the ones you quote quite
> un-bothered.

As would most from over the pond, I suspect- being used to it in everyday
speech. It's because we don't use it here that these passages were (as it
were) highlighted for me, and it made me question whether the whole idiom
was 'periodically correct'. If they had used 'got', I wouldn't have worried
about the evolution of meaning of 'to get hold of'.

Incidentally, I have an Amendment to make to one of my 'improvements'. Here
"Evidently she has gotten the notion that you have a sort of Grand Plan to
> > unite her with Robert."
> 'she had the notion'
or (to convey the non-continuous nature of the notion-getting better; one
minute she didn't have the notion, the next minute she did-), simply 'she
got the notion'

On a more general note: as I mentioned in my comeback post, I have recently
qualified as an archivist and I was working on a collection of mostly 19th
c. documents. Many of these were letters from the estate owner to his
lawyers and back. In these I observed some lovely old-fashioned usages. One
that springs to mind is the use of the simple present tense. Quite often the
letters contained enclosures (maps, plans, copies of letters from other
parties), and the writer would say something like: 'We _send_ you the plan
of the enclosed lands by this morning's post', when nowadays you'd expect
'we have sent you' or 'we are sending (to) you'. I think the tendency was
generally to use compound tenses less then.
Also less prepositions: 'We wrote Messrs. Bell & Co. with your instruction
and we _annex_  their reply' (not 'we wrote _to_' and 'enclose/append').
And the use of 'next': 'Cottage next Capt. Kendall's house' (not next to)
And 'copy': 'Copy letter from X' instead of 'copy of a/the letter from X'


> Speaking of Deserted Island books, has that thread been done on this
> list?  I often enjoy seeing what other people consider essential.
> Personally, I'd leave Shakespeare at home.  The Lord of the Rings
> deserves to be read every so often, though, so it would probably end up
> on my list.  I'd only want a dictionary if I were reading a difficult
> passage or doing research, so the OED is out.  I think that I could live
> without the Bible if I were truly alone there for an extended period.
> Instead, I'd want something escapist that would stand up to rereading.
> Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass come to mind.
> --Mark A.

I've had about a million new ideas for essential Desert Island books since
my last post, and then you go and add to them! Alice in Wonderland- yes! And
how could I have forgotten the great dwj herself- it would have to be Deep
Secret for me.


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