(urth) The Katharine maid

Nathan Spears spearofsolomon at yahoo.com
Fri Oct 27 07:34:20 PDT 2006

>From dictionary.com

"—Usage note Since the latter part of the 18th century, a distinction has been made between born and borne as past participles of the verb bear1. Borne is the past participle in all senses that do not refer to physical birth: The wheatfields have borne abundantly this year. Judges have always borne a burden of responsibility. Borne
is also the participle when the sense is “to bring forth (young)” and
the focus is on the mother rather than on the child. In such cases, borne is preceded by a form of have or followed by by: Anna had borne a son the previous year. Two children borne by her earlier were already grown."

In looking around the web for this, I have noticed a lot of uses of the phrase "borne by Mary" in reference to Jesus.  I was wondering if the Catholic members of the list, or those familar with Catholicism, might comment as to whether this phrase is familiar to them - that is, if the phrase comes up a lot in doctrine or teaching or gossip around the cathedral.  Perhaps Wolfe chose this phrase with those connotations in mind - this list has already (heh) borne discussion of the possibility of Catherine as a Mary substitute, and that would fit perfectly with the sentence in question.

----- Original Message ----
From: Tim Walters <walters at doubtfulpalace.com>
To: The Urth Mailing List <urth at lists.urth.net>
Sent: Friday, October 27, 2006 3:51:34 AM
Subject: Re: (urth) The Katharine maid

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).
Urth Mailing List
To post, write urth at urth.net
Subscription/information: http://www.urth.net

More information about the Urth mailing list