Prejudice . . . Without the Pride

The first definition of the word prejudice states, “To affect injuriously or unfavorably by doing some act, or as a consequence of something done; to injure or impair the validity of (a right, claim, statements, etc.).” The earliest example of this definition of the word prejudice comes from 1472 – 3 Rolls of Parlt, “That your seid suppliant nor his heires, be in no wyse hurt nor prejudised by the same Acte.” The sub-definition under this (or whatever the technical term for the “b.” definition), is “to injure materially; to damage; however, this definition of the word is, “Now rare.” This particular definition of the prejudice was last recorded in 1884 Lillywhite’s Cricket, “A wicket very much prejudiced by the rain.” Prejudice also means, “To judge beforehand; esp. to prejudge unfavourably”, which is the second definition found in the OED. In 1597, this definition of the word prejudice could be found in A. M. tr. Guillemeau’s Fr. Chirurg, “We may præiudice the bones to be altered or polluted.” The last definition of the word prejudice given is, “to affect or fill with a prejudice; to prepossess with an opinion; to give a bias or bent to, influence the mind or judgement of beforehand (often unfairly).” In 1610, this definition was used in WILLET Hexapla Dan, “I will not prejudice the judgement of any.” The latest example of this definition given comes from 1868, KINGSLEY Hermits, St. Simon Styl., “I wished . . . to prejudice my readers’ minds in their favour rather than against them.”

Double Negatives

According to A History of the English Language, “. . . Shakespeare could say, Thou hast spoken no word all this while – nor understood none neither; I know not, nor I greatly care not; nor this is not my nose neither; first he denied you had in him no right; my father hath no child but I, nor none is like to have; nor never none shall mistress be of it, save I alone” (242). The reason these few sentences sound so horrible to us, is because we no longer accept double negatives. Back in Elizabethan times, people could use a double negative in order to strengthen the negative. Today, people still feel that it emphasizes a, “stronger negative, . . .[but] it is . . . the instinct of the uneducated” (242). During that time, there wasn’t a strict rule about usage and where the negative was placed, so people were content enough with putting the negative before the verb. Since then, we have stopped using the pattern because of the, “false application pf mathematical logic to language” (242).

What is really interesting about this, although it sounds horrible in old English, people actually incorporate double negative into their language all of the time (especially southerners). When southerners speak using double negative, it is actually called a negative concord, or, “. . . a phenomenon in which more than one negative element occurs in a sentence, but the sentence is interpreted as only being negated once” (Negative Concord). Some examples of negative concord would be, “Nobody ain’t doin’ nothin’ wrong”, “I ain’t never been in jail”, “I don’t never have no problems”, “I ain’t never seen nobody dressed that way.” The reality of speaking this way in America is that, although it is very grammatically incorrect, among certain areas, this way of speaking it socially accepted. Unfortunately, it sounds very uneducated.

However, most foreign language requires double negatives. Some examples of double negative in foreign languages are as follows: “No hay ningun problema. (Spanish) ‘There isn’t no problem’ meaning ‘There isn’t a problem.’ Я не хочу нічого їсти. (Ya ne hochu nichogo yisty.) (Ukrainian) ‘I don’t want nothing to eat.’ meaning ‘I don’t want to eat anything.’” (Joki). Some other foreign languages that require double negatives include: French, German, Turkish, Japanese, Chinese, etc.

So, although the use of double negatives is a grammatical “no no” in standard English, nearly all other foreign languages require the use of double negatives, and a large amount of English dialects also find the use of double negatives to be socially acceptable.

Baugh, Albert C., and Thomas Cable. A history of the English language. Abingdon, Oxon: Routledge, Taylor & Francis Group, 2013. Print.

Joki, Kimberely . “Double Negatives: 3 Rules You Must Know.” Grammarly Blog. N.p., 25 Jan. 2017. Web. 30 Jan. 2017.

“Negative Concord.” Negative Concord | Yale Grammatical Diversity Project. N.p., n.d. Web. 30 Jan. 2017.

“He would consider it an impertinence!” – Jane Austen

I have always thought of the word impertinent as basically a synonym for the word rude ever sense I heard the word used in my favorite movie Pride and Prejudice (2005). However, according to the first definition found in the OED, impertinent means, “not appertaining or belonging (to); unconnected, unrelated; inconsonant.” To summarize this definition, impertinent is another way of saying irrelevant; which is exactly what the second definition states: “Not pertaining to the subject or matter in hand; not pertinent; not to the point; irrelevant.” The third definition listed is much like the first two in that it states, “Not suitable to the circumstances; incongruous, inappropriate, out of place; not consonant with reason; absurd, idle, trivial, silly.” These definitions do not entirely fit into the way Elizabeth uses it while speaking to Mr.Collins. In the movie, after Mr. Collins says that, “he must make himself know to him” (him being Mr. Darcy), Elizabeth then says, “No, he would consider it an impertinence!” The fifth definition given of the word impertinent is more along the lines of how I believe Elizabeth was using it in this line. The fifth definition being, “Of persons, their actions, etc.: Meddling with what is beyond one’s provinces; intrusive, presumptuous; behaving without proper respect or deference to superiors or strangers; insolent or saucy in speech or behavior.” This is a very fitting definition of the scene considering Mr. Collins walks up behind a stranger (of higher rank) and clears his throat to get his attention. The final definition given is, “An impertinent person: a meddlesome, presumptuous, or insolent person; one who does or says that which he has no business to do or say, and which is considered a piece of presumption or insolence.” The earliest example of the word impertinent comes from the year 1380, “CHAUCER Clerk’s Prol. Trewely as to my Iuggement Me thynketh it a thyng impertinent Saue that he wole conuoyen his mateere.” The latest example given comes from 1888, “MISS BRADDON Fatal Three I. iv, Fay has been most impertinent to me.”

Thou, Thy, and Thee


According to A History of the English Language, “In the thirteenth century, the singular forms (thou, thy, and thee) were used in addressing children or persons of inferior rank, while the plural forms (ye, your, and you) began to be used as a mark of respect in addressing a superior (235). However, people started address everyone in the plural forms. Since less people used the singular forms of the personal pronoun, “by the sixteenth century, the singular forms has all but disappeared from contexts in which the plural forms were deemed proper (235). The only people who still maintained use of the singular pronouns into the twentieth century were the Quakers.

Before thou, thy, and thee were removed from common practice – and even before they were used to distinguish status – these pronouns were used to show number contrast (Politeness in Early Modern English). While the singular cases in middle English are as follows: thou, thee, thee, thy/thine. The plural cases in middle English are: ye, you, you, and your. This means that in middle English, depending on which pronoun a person used would tell you whether they were using the singular or plural form (this is the number contrast). In modern English, whether you’re writing in singular or plural form, all the pronouns are the same, which gives in the reader no indication of singular or plural by just looking at the word (distinction is in the context of the word). Modern English pronouns in the singular form are: you, you, you, and your for all singular cases. These are the same in the plural cases.

When using thou back in the fifteenth century, you would have to be careful about who you address that way. Thou carried a lot of emotion with it; it could be used to express contempt and scorn, but it could also be used to indicate an intimate relationship. Thou indicated an (reciprocated) intimate relationship, but only in a private setting; therefore, making it signal of familiarity or intimacy. An example of this use is as follows: “A wife might signal her recognition of her husband’s legal pre-eminence as the head of household by addressing him as you in public contexts, but in private, thou would be the most usual marker of reciprocal intimacy” (Politeness in Early Modern English). If this couple were in public and she called addressed him with thou, this would be a sign of contempt and disrespect. The social aspect of this word (social encompassing both the indication of status, and the level of respect) is what led this word to be removed entirely from practice of the English language toward the end of the seventeenth century.


The very basic meaning of the word percolate is to strain or filter liquid. The first definition given is, “to cause (a liquid) to pass through the interstices of a porous body or medium; to strain or filter (naturally or artificially). Loosely, to cause (a finely divided solid) to trickle or pass through pores or minute apertures, to sift.” The oldest example of this definition comes from the year 1626. The example comes from BACON Sylva, “Springs on the Top of High Hills are the best: For . . . they . . . are more Percolated thorow a great Space of Earth.” This word can also be used figuratively, like it is used in this 1677 example from HALE prim. Orig. Man. II., “The evidences of Fact are as it were percolated through a vast period of Ages, and many very obscure to us.” Clearly evidences of fact are not a liquid so it cannot be physically strained through anything, making this use of percolated a figure of speech. Another way you can use the word percolate is to prepare (coffee) in a percolator (which is delicious). This use of the word is the most recent use since it was first formed in 1966; the first example of this use of the word comes from New Statesman, “First found percolating stale morning coffee in his office.”  The most interesting use of the word percolate is to walk, or stroll, used as an intransitive verb. This definition of the word was considered U.S. slang at the time. An example of this use comes from Z. N. Hurston in A. Dundes Mother Wit (1973), “The he would . . . percolate on down the Avenue.” Along with strolling and walking, it could also be used to say someone was meandering around; this use was first seen in 1945 with an example from L. SHELLY Five Talk Dict.

Response to “Control of Distance in Jane Austen’s Emma” by Wayne Booth

In Wayne Booth’s essay, “Control of Distance in Jane Austen’s Emma,” Booth expounds on the character Emma as a sympathetic character. To begin, Booth states that Jane Austen is a master of the rhetoric of narration because she creates a character toward whom we cannot react as she consciously intends for us to react (Booth 35). Booth’s first section of the essay in entitled “Sympathy and Judgement in Emma.” The idea s that Jane Austen creats character twoward whom we cannot react as she consciously intends. Booth writes that, “It is clear that with a general plot of this kind Jane Austen gave herself difficulties of a high order. Though Emma’s faults are comic, they constantly threaten to produce serious harm. Yet she must remain sympathetic, or the reader will not wish for and delight sufficiently in her reform” (36). The goal is to make the reader laugh at Emma’s mistakes and her punishment without making the audience dislike her enough to make them not want to see her reform or happy. The problem however, is that “Any attempt to solve the problem by reducing either the love or the clear view of her faults would have been fatal” (36). Emma’s character is riddled with faults that constantly threaten to produce serious harm, “yet she must remain sympathetic, or the reader will not wish for and delight sufficiently in her reform” (Booth 36). So the only solution to Austen’s problem was to make Emma the narrator of the story: “through the third person, reporting only her own experience.” Instead of the audience standing against her on the outside, we experience life with her and know her inner thoughts and feelings throughout the story.

What sets apart Austen’s Emma from many other novels, is the reliable narrator and the Norms of Emma. The reliable narrator serves to “heighten the effects by directing our intellectual, moral, and emotional progress throughout the novel” (Booth 45). It is a very important role in reinforcing that “both aspects of the double vision that operates throughout the book; our inside view of Emma’s worth and our objective view of her great faults.” Since Emma is the narrator of Austen’s story, “We learn much of what we must know from the narrator, but she turns over more and more of the jobs of summary to Emma as she feels more and more sure of our seeing precisely to what degree Emma is to be trusted.” Emma’s character is one we can sympathize with because she messes up every chance that she gets, but it is crucially important that in all the mistakes she makes, she never ruins any other characters’ life in the novel (such as Harriot).

Booth, Wayne. “Control of Distance in Jane Austen’s Emma.” In The Essential Wayne Booth, edited by Walter Jost, 100-118. Chicago, IL: Chicago University Press, 2006.

Summary of “How Bakhtin Woke Me Up” by Wayne Booth

In Wayne Booth’s “How Bakhtin Woke Me Up,” he begin by telling his readers what the West was saying about the “relations of ideology and form while Bakhtin was writing” (Booth 141). Booth states that, “Formal critics all begin with a truth that recent ideological critics too often neglect: Form is in itself interesting, even in the most abstract scheme” (Booth 141). He goes onto to say that “human meanings” (ideological or theoretical meanings) are not required because “nothing is more human than the love of forms” (Booth 141). However, formal critics struggle with this claim because they do not know how to deal with what we often refer to as ‘content.’

Booth introduces the ideas of Pater, from the late 19th century, who claims that all art aspires to the condition of music, and that “art is not a question of beautiful intertwining of idea, for there should be no ‘content’ to intertwine” (Booth 142). Pater obviously advocates for form and sees no point in content, but “everyone who has pronounced thus boldly for a purified form has been confronted by the scandalous fact that all actual works of art are loaded with ideology” (Booth 142). In response to Pater, Booth writes that “a whole history of art in our century . . . could be written as a grand competition for the position of chief purifier, artists and critics catching each other out for failing to expunge lingering ‘impurities’” (Booth 142).

Booth provides several options throughout for dealing with these scandals of whether or not all is about form or content. Either we can “follow some of the formalists and fight meaning openly, as a taint on pure form”, or we can embrace it. To embrace it would mean that we “downgrade formal interests and to identify a works art with its ideology. Judging works according to their surface truth or falsehood” (Booth 143). The third option is “to move unsystematically back and forth, in an uneasy compromise between talk about form and talk about meanings, depending on what the work itself forces on our attention” (Booth 144). The fourth, and final, option that Booth gives us “might be called ‘Aristotelian,’ or perhaps, to avoid the claim of really having understood Aristotle, ‘neo-Aristotelian’. Here we reject the notion of a seperable ‘content’ altogether and rely instead on a form/matter pairing, in which neither form nor matter can be distinguished in separation from its twin” (Booth 144).

Summary of “Macbeth as Tragic Hero” by Wayne Booth

In Wayne Booth’s essay “Macbeth as Tragic Hero,” he explores Shakepeare’s Macbeth as being both a sympathetic character, and the story being what Booth refers to as sympathetic-degenerative plot.

One of the biggest problems that Shakespeare makes for himself in writing this play, according to Booth, is that he broke his character physically, emotionally, morally, and intellectually (Booth 23). However broken Macbeth was, Shakespeare managed to “keep him an object of pity rather than hatred” (Booth 23).

Macbeth’s story is what Booth refers to as the sympathetic-degenerative plot which almost always includes one or another of the following failures or transformations occur: all sympathy is lost, the protagonist is never really made very wicked, the protagonist avoids his proper punishment, or the artist makes us side with his degenerative hero against “morality.” “Any of these failures or transformations can be found in conjunction with the most frequent failure of all: the degeneration remains finally unexplained, unmotivated; the forces employed to destroy the noble man are found pitifully inadequate to make his fall seem credible” (Booth 24).

The first step to creating Shakespeare’s Macbeth is to have the audience believe that Macbeth was once a man whom we could admire with great potential. The second step, or rule rather, in creating Macbeth was to have the audience see the characters real temptation to the fall. The audience must experience the temptation as it is happening. Shakespeare also employs the use of testimonies form other characters to establish the protagonist’s prior goodness. The audience must believe in the innate goodness of Macbeth. Even when Macbeth commits murder, Shakespeare strategically wrote his story so that the audience never sees Macbeth committing such as horrible act. Had the audience experienced Macbeth’s faults first hand, it would diminish the pity the audience feels for him. “Shakespeare works almost as if he were following a master-rulebook: By your choice of what to represent from the materials provided in your story, insure that each step in your protagonist’s degeneration will be counteracted by mounting pity for him” (Booth 31).

A Summary of “Responses to Bartholomae and Elbow”

In the essay, “Responses to Bartholomae and Elbow,” is begins with Bartholomae’s side of the argument. Although he admits they have a good bit of common ground, he spends the whole rest of the essay trying to prove how Elbow is wrong by seemingly taking quotes from Elbow’s work and using them out of context (which Elbow points out later on in the essay). The first point that he makes against Peter is that he, “comes down on the side of credulity as the governing idea in the undergraduate writing course; I come down on the side of skepticism” (84). Bartholomae boldly states that academic writing is a form of critical writing, and what Peter calls mistrust should actually be replaced with the word criticism. He argues that, it is not that he wants student to distrust, but he wants them to approach everything with a critical eye so that they can ask serious questions. On the subject of teachers, Bartholomae’s aim is to unmask the “subtle and sometimes insidious powers of teachers” (85). Bartholomae poses three crucial pedagogical questions in the conversation, which are as follows: “Is it the job of college English to teach students to learn to resist and be suspicious of writing and the text? Is criticism an appropriate point of entry into the college curriculum and is the freshman course appropriately conceived of as a point of entry into the college curriculum)? Are freshman ready to think first and primarily about the problems of writing when the write?” (85).

Response to “Writing with Teacher: A Conversation with Peter Elbow” by David Bartholomae

In David Bartholomae’s, “Writing with Teacher: A Conversation with Peter Elbow,” there are many of his points expressed in this essay that seem to be contradictory and just plain confusing. To begin his essay, he starts by defining what academic writing actually is, which is actually not as helpful as one would think. Academic writing, according to David Bartholomae, is described as: writing that is done by academics, the writing that passes as currency in the academy, the unreadable created by the unspeakable, stuffy, pedantic, pure, muscular, lean, taut, the language of truth and reason, language stripped of the false dressings of style and fashion, and finally, academic writing is a tool for inquiry and critique. From his description of academic writing, one can already make the assumption that David Bartholomae values academic writing above any other type of writing. Although, he does admit that it is difficult, “to find positive terms for academic writing when talking to a group of academics, including those who could be said to do it for a living” (63). Thankfully, Bartholomae states his position on academic writing clearly when he writes, “I want to argue that academic writing is the real work of the academy. I also want to argue for academic writing as a key term in the study of writing and the practice of instruction” (63). The he rewords this by saying that, “there is no writing that is writing without teachers” (63). He then discusses how the teacher has this power and authority that must be exercised over the students, but also describes academic writing as being crowded with others as if your writing is not your own (maybe writing is crowded by controlling authoritative teachers?). Writing is not your own because it belongs to, “TV, to Books, to Culture and History” (64). So, to summarize, it is as if Bartholomae is saying that students have nothing new to say. Every idea or subject that students could possibly write about has already been done in TV, books, culture and history. Then without any header or concluding sentence to transition, Bartholomae boldly states, “Now-I say this as though it were obvious. Students write in a space defined by all the writing that has preceded them, writing the academy insistently draws together: in the library, in the reading list, in the curriculum” (64). So, now not only are students unoriginal in their ideas and subjects they write about, but they can only write within the confines of the writing that preceded them? Bartholomae’s whole attitude towards students writing is negative, confusing, and contradictory (mostly negative). In the rest of the essay, he claims off-the-wall ideas like how if students are not able to articulate something in writing, then they really know nothing about that particular subject. The problem with Bartholomae is that he does nothing to instill any sort of love for writing or confidence in student writing.