Laurence Horn laurence.horn at YALE.EDU
Wed Aug 5 19:38:39 UTC 2009

At 8:07 AM -0700 8/5/09, Arnold Zwicky wrote:
>On Aug 5, 2009, at 6:44 AM, Jon Lighter wrote:
>>Yeah, but "beknown" is called "archaic," and the 1876 "beholden" is
>>from a
>>book called _Modern English_.
>>My mother and grandmother used to say "beholden" all the time...
>>On Wed, Aug 5, 2009 at 9:03 AM, Joel S. Berson <Berson at> wrote:
>>>At 8/5/2009 08:45 AM, Jonathan Lighter wrote:
>>>>The final OED ex. is from 1865.
>>>>But how did they miss this?:
>>>>: i believe john ireland made his name beknown in this film.
>>>They must have been sleeping though Katharine Hepburn movies.  After
>>>all, she said "beholden" in "Philadelphia Story" in 1938 and again in
>>>1940, and the final OED ex. for that is from 1873.
>i'm baffled by this exchange.  why is "beholden" (dialectal/informal,
>but still current) being discussed in a thread about "beknown"?
>"beknown" is at best rare these days, and it's not even clear that
>when it occurs it's a survival of the older verb form, rather than an
>innovation on the basis of "unbeknownst", "renowned", analytic "be
>known", etc.
>but here's a further example i found:
>   Please understand we have been selling these brands for a decade
>and have few, if any unhappy customers who have made themselves
>beknown to us (with a total sample size of thousands!) or returns...
>so please don't be unduly alarmed!
One structural difference between the two is that "beknown" in many
contexts, including the one just above, could be a reparsing of "be
known"--"who made themselves be known to us" is perfectly natural for
me, and I can imagine someone associating this with "unbeknownst" and
spelling it as one word.  This is impossible (or at least unlikely)
with "beholden".


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