(urth) The Katharine maid

Tim Walters walters at doubtfulpalace.com
Fri Oct 27 01:51:34 PDT 2006

On Oct 27, 2006, at 12:27 AM, Roy C. Lackey wrote:
>> born, a. [pp. of bear (to give birth): now used only in passive
>> constructions not followed by _by_.]
> Precisely. My _Webster's_ says the same thing. That's why Wolfe  
> didn't write
> "born by"; he wrote "borne by". "Born" has nothing to do with the  
> sentence
> in question. The word isn't in the sentence.

The point is that "borne by" is what Wolfe would write if he meant  
that Catherine gave birth to Severian in the cell, because "born by"  
is wrong. "Borne" is, in fact, a valid past participle of "bear (to  
give birth)," as specified in the "bear" entry:

"_Bear_, signifying _to bring forth_, has the past participle, when  
used passively, spelled born, but when used after the verb _to have_,  
it is spelled _borne_. Thus, a child was _born_, but she has _borne_  
a child."

Although "have" is not in the sentence, the "born" entry makes it  
clear that in this particular passive use, "borne" is to be  
preferred, which is why I cited said entry.

In any case:

     --"borne by" to mean "given birth by" is a common usage, whether  
sanctioned by Webster or not;
     --mentioning one's birth is a common way to emphasize one's mere  
humanity, as in "man, born of woman." Mentioning being carried seems  
random (although I don't have the "brown basket" reference to hand;  
maybe there's enough context there to make it less so).

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