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Bruin Fisher

Archaic Usage

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I noticed what I took to be a misprint on an information poster while visiting the erstwhile home of the poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge, in Nether Stowey, Somerset last weekend.

One verse quoted from 'The Rime of the Ancient Mariner' was rendered this way:

At length did cross an Albatross,

Thorough the fog it came ;

As if it had been a Christian soul,

We hailed it in God's name.

I immediately noticed the word 'thorough' instead of 'through' (editor's head on, or was it just pedantry?) and brought it to the attention of the curator who was interested and had never had it pointed out before. I also found the verse in a book that was available there where it was rendered the same way. Three verses later is this:

In mist or cloud, on mast or shroud,

It perched for vespers nine ;

Whiles all the night, through fog-smoke white,

Glimmered the white Moon-shine.'

which seemed to reinforce my claim that I'd found a misprint.

However I've since been researching it, and some dictionaries give 'Through' as an alternative, archaic usage of 'Thorough'. And I've realised that's the derivation of the still current usage of 'Thoroughfare'. So I'm feeling sheepish.

I'd never come across 'Thorough' used that way and had never linked it with 'Thoroughfare'.

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Fascinating, although you're stuck in 'through' mode, regardless of thinking about this. Note: "some dictionaries give 'Through' as an alternative, archaic usage of 'Through'" in which you use through twice.

I'm not one for poetry, but I would have taken that line at seemingly face value to my understanding of the word (similar to yours, I expect)

"Thorough the fog it came"

I took that "it" as referencing the fog itself, as meaning that the fog came in thoroughly and fully.

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This is from the Oxford English Dictionary:

thorough... Origin: used as adverb and preposition in senses of through; this sense survives in thoroughfare.

Bruin, it's exactly as you told us; the origin of words is fascinating. English is fascinating!

My brother Chris is taking a linguistics course this semester. The textbook, How English Works: A Linguistic Introduction, is actually fun to read. Chris says the course is focused on the English language, not on language in general like most linguistics courses. I'm going to take this course next semester or next year if I can squeeze it in.

Colin :lol:

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It's odd how the brain works. When I read that, I immediately noticed that 'through' was spelled wrong. My next thought was more complicated. I looked at it and assumed it was spelled the way Coleridge wanted it spelled, and it was probably correct in his time. The reason I thought that is because so often when I get smug thinking I'm right about something, I find I'm not, that the mistake was mine, not the author's. That has happened so frequently for me that I no longer assume I'm right about most anything.

What's even more fascinating, however, is Trab's interpretation. I'd never have thought of that in a thousand years, but what he says makes perfect sense it you think about it. Very, very clever. And I missed it completely.

Yes, the language is indeed marvelous. I love looking at things like this, just as I did that list Bruin presented us the other day. Great stuff.

C

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