"The Haunted Pajamas"
av Francis Perry Elliott
Alla som varit med ett tag vet hur språket förändras. Eller ska jag säga att de flesta som varit med, vet det. Jag har faktiskt träffat några få människor som inte tänker på det — just de personerna har varit så upptagna av att se ut och låta “som man ska” att de varit så koncentrerade på att inte verka förlegade, att de sällan tänker på hur det var, bara för några år sedan.
Men om man, liksom jag, dyker ner i gamla böcker, kan man inte undgå att förtjusas — och ibland förfäras — av hur man en gång i tiden uttryckte sig. Tänk på Agatha Christies tidiga författarskap, det här är hämtat från “The Secret Adversary“, som kom 1922
"TOMMY, old thing!"
"Tuppence, old bean!"
The two young people greeted each other affectionately, and momentarily blocked the Dover Street Tube exit in doing so. The adjective "old" was misleading. Their united ages would certainly not have totalled forty-five.
"Not seen you for simply centuries," continued the young man. "Where are you off to? Come and chew a bun with me. We're getting a bit unpopular here—blocking the gangway as it were. Let's get out of it."
Kanske inte en engelska man har direkt nytta av i sitt dagliga umgänge med engelskpråkiga vänner. Precis som jag inte rekommenderar någon att låna uttryck från P. G. Wodehouse, även om det kan vara frestande.
I uppbygglig barn- och ungdomslitteratur får vi lära oss ett annat sätt att uttrycka oss på — där möter oss ett stundtals väl joltigt, för att inte säga kletigt, språk.
Så här börjar “Mildred's New Daughter“, av Martha Finley (Martha Farquharson) från 1894:
The clock on the mantel, striking six, woke Ethel and Blanche Eldon, two little sisters lying side by side in their pretty bed.
“Ah, it is morning, Blanche, and time for you and me to be up,” said Ethel, smiling pleasantly into her younger sister’s eyes.
“Yes; in a minute, Ethel,” replied Blanche, turning toward her sister and patting her cheek affectionately.
At the same moment the door into the hall opened softly and the mother came in, her dark eyes shining, her thin, pale face wreathed in smiles.
“Good-morning, my darlings,” she said, speaking softly, for fear of waking the two younger children in the nursery beyond. “Have you slept well?” she asked, bending over to kiss first one, then the other.
“Yes, mamma, dear,” they answered, speaking together. “And so have Harry and Nannette,” added Ethel, “and they are sound asleep yet, I think.”
“And we will not wake them,” responded the mother.
“Did you sleep well, mamma? and is dear papa better?” asked the little girls with eager, anxious looks up into her face, Ethel adding, “Oh, I am sure of it, because you look so happy!”
“Yes, dears, I am very glad and happy, very thankful to our kind Heavenly Father, that your papa slept unusually well and seems easier and brighter this morning than I have seen him for weeks,” Mrs. Eldon replied, with tears of joy shining in her eyes. “He has asked to see his children, and when you are dressed and have eaten your breakfast, you shall come to him for a few minutes.”
“Oh, we are so glad we may see him, mamma,” they cried in a breath, Ethel adding, “I hope papa will soon be so well that we can go back to our own dear home again and see our own dear grandma and grandpa.”
“Yes, I hope so, darling. And now you two may get up and when dressed help Harry and Nannette with their toilet.”
“Then have our breakfast and after that go in to see papa?” exclaimed Blanche joyously. “And may we kiss him, mamma?”
“I think he will be able to kiss his children all around,” the mother answered the little questioner, with a loving smile. “But I must go back to him now, dears,” she added; and with another tender kiss she turned and went quickly from the room.
The two little girls were already out of bed and dressing as fast as they could; but that was not so very rapidly, for Ethel, the eldest, was only eight years old, Blanche nearly two years younger.
Jag kan inte sluta grunna på om man verkligen uttryckte sig så.
Och slutligen ett helt annat sorts exempel, inledningen i boken “The Haunted Pajamas“, av Francis Perry Elliott, från 1911. Jag har fortfarande inte kommit igenom första kapitlet, och har gett upp om att få veta varför bokens berättare fått detta paket. Alla “by Jove” och “dash it all” har en avskräckande effekt på mig.
I screwed my glass tight and examined the thing with interest. Nothing remarkable; just a tiny, oblong package, bearing curious foreign markings, its wrapper plainly addressed to me, but—
"By Jove! From China!" I ejaculated.
Somebody in far-off China sending me a present, with duties and charges prepaid evidently.
What the deuce was it? I shook it without getting any revelation; then I weighed it in my hand.
The thing was devilish light! In fact, so light that, allowing for outside wrapper and box, dashed if I could see how there was anything at all.
Then I had an awful thought: Suppose, by Jove, they had forgotten to inclose the thing—whatever it was! Jolly tiresome, that, if they had. I felt devilish annoyed.
Really, awfully provoking to do that sort of thing, you know; and I was jolly sure now the dashed thing had been wrapped up empty. I wondered what silly ass I knew in China who would be likely to do a thing like that. I couldn't think of any one at all I knew in China, so I rang for Jenkins.
"Anybody I know in China, Jenkins?" I asked. And to help him out, I added: "Fact is, some chap's sent me a package, you know."
"Name on box, sir, perhaps." Said it offhand, just like that—no trouble of thinking, dash it all—never even blinked. Just instinct, by Jove!
And there it was, nicely printed in the corner with a pen:
Roland Mastermann, Government House, Hong Kong, China
I read it aloud—can't read anything, you know, unless I read it aloud—and looked at Jenkins inquiringly. But he came right up to the scratch; just seemed to get it from somewhere right out of the wall over my head:
"Beg pardon, sir; but think it's that London gentleman—entertained you at the Carlton when you were over the other side."
Mastermann! By Jove, so it was—I began to remember him now, because I remembered his dinner, several of them, in fact, during the three years I had lived over there, acquiring the English accent—manner, you know—and all that sort of thing!
Mastermann—oh, yes, I had him, now! Jolly rum old boy, but entertaining and clever—long hair, pink wart on jaw! And, by Jove, I had promised him—promised him—what the deuce was it I had promised him? Let me see: he was something or other in the foreign office; yes, I had that—and tremendously interested in mummies and psychical investigation and rum sort of things like that, and—
"By Jove!" I ejaculated, as it came to me. "And for that reason he wanted them to send him out to China."
"Beg pardon, sir," put in Jenkins, "but think you had a letter with a Chinese postmark last week."
He looked around at my little writing-desk and coughed slightly behind his hand.
"Was just a-wondering, sir, if it might not be among those you haven't opened—there are several piles. If I might look, sir—"
I nodded. Fact is, I allow Jenkins much privilege, owing to long service. Then, you know—oh, dash it, he's so original—so refreshing and that sort of thing—so surprising. Just as in this case, he thinks of so many devilishly ingenious, out-of-the-way sort of things!
It was Jenkins' idea that I find out what was in the box by just opening the dashed thing while he looked for the letter.
Clever that, eh? Well, rather!
Detta korta inlägg (min insats är ju minimal, ber om ursäkt om någon tycker citaten är för långa), har tagit många dagar att få ihop. Inte för att det var svårt eller för att det har krävt vidare forskning — men som vanligt har jag avvikit från den inslagna vägen och gjort otaliga utflykter när min hjärna signalerat att den kommit att tänka på något med anledning av inläggets innehåll. Spårar jag inte ur totalt kommer kanske någon av alla dessa associationer i ett framtida inlägg.