Q: "Nantucket coach"?

Joel S. Berson Berson at ATT.NET
Mon Dec 10 02:32:57 UTC 2012

I suspect we're trying to be too precise about a writer and story
that are taken by some to be Nathaniel Hawthorne's model for ambiguity.


At 12/9/2012 02:56 PM, you wrote:
>On 12/9/2012 12:59 PM, Joel S. Berson wrote:
>>.... These descriptions don't sound like a presumably-plodding
>>"all-purpose cart used as a coach in/on Nantucket". Perhaps Austin was
>>envisioning a Nantucket sleighride after all.
>It is my impression that in Austin's text (<<This chair, like a
>Nantucket coach, would answer for everything that ever went on
>wheels.>>) the phrase "like a Nantucket coach" would most naturally
>refer only to the all-purpose design or versatility of the vehicle (not
>to its exact size, speed, color, etc.).
>That is, I take the sentence to be equivalent to <<This chair would
>answer, like a Nantucket coach, for everything that ever went on wheels.>>.
>For comparison, if I write <<Tom, like Dick, can do any kind of work.>>
>I probably do not mean to imply that Tom is similar to Dick in size or
>age or running speed or other features.
>The alternative interpretation ( = <<This chair, which had the general
>characteristics of a Nantucket coach, would answer for everything that
>ever went on wheels.>>) seems unlikely to me, the more so in the absence
>of any standardized referent of the term "Nantucket coach".
>Would the suggested whale-related concepts be sensible? <<This chair,
>like a boat being towed by a whale, would answer for everything that
>ever went on wheels.>>? <<This chair, like a whale's upper jaw, would
>answer for everything that ever went on wheels.>>? Offhand they doesn't
>seem right to me.
>-- Doug Wilson
>The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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