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Thread: A little English help

  1. #1 A little English help 
    New Member Veeshan's Avatar
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    Just need help working out how this sentence is read. This is a quote from Alice in Wonderland, by the Duchess.

    "Never imagine yourself not to be otherwise than what it might appear to others that what you were or might have been was not otherwise than what you had been would have appeared to them to be otherwise."

    I was wondering if it is correct (in that it means something comprehensible, not necessarily correct English).

    I cannot keep enough of the... um, segments... in my mind at the same time to work out how this is supposed to be understood.


    Give a man a fire and he's warm for a day, but set fire to him and he's warm for the rest of his life.
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  3. #2  
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    Lewis carrol was a renowned opium user and wrote some of his work whilst as high as a kite, Alice in wonderland is thought to have been one of those pieces of work, If it is legal in your country to use opium it might help you understand, but I wouldnt recomend it...

    If you are having trouble with it, just ignore it.

    From your ability to write in English I'd suggest it's not your fault that you are having trouble deciphering the ramblings of an idiot.


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  4. #3 Re: A little English help 
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    Quote Originally Posted by Veeshan
    "Never imagine yourself not to be otherwise than what it might appear to others that what you were or might have been was not otherwise than what you had been would have appeared to them to be otherwise."
    The douchess? I swear that sounds like something the mad hatter would say. Regardless, lets try a translation:

    Don't imagine yourself to be what you're not.

    Wow, I own. 8)
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  5. #4  
    Universal Mind John Galt's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Megabrain
    From your ability to write in English I'd suggest it's not your fault that you are having trouble deciphering the ramblings of an idiot.
    Megabrain's appreciation of a skillfull English writer should not cloud your judgement of the work. I think I agree with Jeremy's reduction of the original quote. However, it seems to me more important to understand what Carrol's underlying intent was.
    Remeber that in real life he was the Reverend Dodson. Victorian ministers were renowned for giving long, tedious convoluted sermons that would have contained many sentences not unlike the subject one. He would have been very aware of this tendency. I think here Dodson was playfully poking fun at this style of speech. It is intended to be both meaningful, but at the same time almost impossible to interpret - unless you take a great deal of time to do it.
    I think, like the rest of his writing, that it is eminently readable, genuinely playful, and wonderfully subversive.

    Definitely not the work of an idiot!
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