Lots of old words

Pride and Prejudice was published in 1813, and it was begun already around 1796 and revised significantly in 1811-1812. Consequently, the language is rather different from present-day English, as you have probably noticed. Jane Austen’s language is generally precise and uses irony and humour, but the novel still poses some language challenges for the modern reader.

Certain words and expressions are used with a different meaning than we do today. One example is the word ‘respectable’, which is often used in connection with Mr Collins who otherwise is a rather foolish character for the readers. In this sense, the word respectable refers to status and having enough money to support oneself.

Another example is the use of the word ‘morning’. In the novel, the term morning generally refers to the whole period between breakfast and dinner (eaten at around 5 p.m.). Similarly, words like ‘genteel’ and ‘agreeable’ are not usually used in modern English.

In the novel, you will also find numerous examples of archaic spellings: ‘exstacy’, …

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