Thursday, March 28, 2013

AC Doyle and the ambiguity of English

English has evolved since the time of Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes stories, which span the decades from the 1880s to the 1910s. Here's a good example—something that Holmes says about women:

Women are naturally secretive, and they like to do their own secreting.

Why, that sounds positively sebaceous, Holmes, old boy!

And then there's this juicy quote by Mr. Merryweather (a.k.a. "the stranger") from the short story I'm currently reading, "The Adventure of the Red-headed League":

"Oh, if you say so, Mr. Jones, it is all right," said the stranger with deference. "Still, I confess that I miss my rubber. It is the first Saturday night for seven-and-twenty years that I have not had my rubber."

How dreadfully prophylactic, dear chap!


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