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English stuff
A question for the bookworms and such --

I've noticed this several times in older pieces of literature, where a name (usually of a place) is blanked out, as in it's written, for example, as "-------shire." It bothers me because it ruins the continuity of the sentence for me, but maybe it would bother me less if I knew exactly why this occurs. Any answers?

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I seem to recall that our contemporary fiction prof said it was common in Austen's era to blank out names of places.. something about copyright or.. like defamation of character worries? I can't quite remember

I'm sure it's cause they were lazy and didn't want to make up the name of the place. Yeah that's probably it.

"Hey Joe I need the name of a place for my story!"
"Whatever just leave it blank fill it in just before you send it off."
"Yeah good idea, hope I don't forget!"

It depends on the time period. In the Regency it was a lot like 20-- AD in sci-fi. It's to give the idea that it could be happening anywhere, and most readers would fill it in with towns in their general vicinity. It was also the general style in letters and such, so people were used to reading it. Rather than saying, "Siren and I went to Abbotshire," the person would write, "Miss S. and I went to --shire." It was the style, and helped to keep things vague if letters were intercepted or read by the wrong party.

After 1900 it became popular again due to censorship during the World Wars. You didn't want your enemy to know where anything was, and if they thought London was on the northern tip of Scotland, all the better.

You know I only wrote this in LJ because I knew you would have an answer? :P

I only asked because I had been reading Pride and Prejudice and it occurred often enough that I had to inquire. Thinking back on it, it did mostly show up in letters to another person, though I think it might have shown up in the general text once or twice, but I can't be certain.

Awww, I feel all special and nerdy now. XD

It shows up in a lot of diaries from the period as well. There's a really good one that I want to recommend but can't find anywhere. =P It's the diary of Eleanora Hallen, and you can find excerpts here. The book is titled "Eleanora's Diary", but good luck finding it online. Check some local libraries, she's come up a lot in linguistic studies and the definition of "Canadian writing".

Edgar Allan Poe also used it to imitate diary entries. Facts in the Case of M. Valdemar is a good example of his, if not one of my favourite stories.

I'm rambling on entirely too much about this. =P

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