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#117842 - 12/17/03 07:31 AM beyond my ken
of troy Offline
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Registered: 10/17/00
Posts: 5400
Loc: rego park
last night's news, had a review of LOTR, and the review gave the pagentry and scope of the movie high praise, and said veiwers would enjoy it, even if the hobbits, elves, and other story elements were beyond their ken.. and then went on to say ken was a mediavel work... one of many that the movie used..

now, i won't claim the i use ken often, in fact, aside from the phrase beyond my ken, i don't think i use it at all.. i read --because it was popular in the late 1960/early 1970's, LOTR, (and had a button 'Frodo Lives!) too, i don't know if i picked the word up there or from other reading or movies.

i know it was used in the movie "Kestral for a Knave'-- a movie (circa 1973-4) set in northern yorkshire, that when released in US came with sub-titles (the 'english engling' deemed to hard for USer's to understand!)

and i it is used in 'historical fiction/biography' type books..(which i have read a number of) and i expect everyone here knows the phrase.. so my question is, is ken archaic? or current english? what do you think? or does it only have 'life' in the phrase?

my other obsession

#117843 - 12/17/03 08:57 AM Re: beyond my ken
Jackie Offline

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Registered: 03/15/00
Posts: 11613
Loc: Louisville, Kentucky
As far as I know, the phrase beyond my ken is the only way the word is used today. AHD says it's From Middle English kennen (influenced by Old Norse kenna, to know), from Old English cennan, to declare.] I seem to recall reading here and there that it was used as a verb in 19th.-early 20th. C. in the U.S. ... though come to think of it, I believe it was about people in Appalachia who still had strong ties to their Scottish roots, where the verb usage was (is?) common.

#117844 - 12/17/03 09:11 AM Re: beyond my ken
maverick Offline
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Registered: 09/15/00
Posts: 4757
d'ye think the Scots blood of Faldage may ken otherwise?

d'ye ken John Peel?

#117845 - 12/17/03 09:30 AM Re: beyond my ken
dodyskin Offline

Registered: 04/24/02
Posts: 475
Loc: manchester uk
'ju'ken wompt sen' is fairly standard round here (north west england) for, 'do you know what I am saying', if that's any help. It's more in the the sense of know and understand than just aware of, although I have heard people say, 'ju'ken our kid' on occasion. I've some friends from Dumfries and Galloway who say ken meaning know all the time, instead of just in particular phrases.

#117846 - 12/17/03 10:31 AM Re: beyond my ken
RhubarbCommando Offline

Registered: 08/23/00
Posts: 2204
Yes, I agree with dody - it is in use in Cumbria ("The Lake District" plus a lot more countryside) as well as Scotland

John Peel, as quoted by mav, was a "Cumbrian" huntsman - in the days before the present day "Cumbria" existed ( Ahhh! - the golden age!!) - I'm fairly sure he was actually a Westmorland man.

#117847 - 12/18/03 04:38 AM Re: beyond my ken
Wordwind Offline
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Registered: 09/30/01
Posts: 6296
Loc: Piedmont Region of Virginia, U...
I don't find the word to be an unusual one at all among educated people. It is ever-so-slightly affected in that it separates the more educated from the less. I would never expect to hear a stereotypical beer-swilling, stockcar race affectionado, wife-beating, trailer-park inhabitant to use 'beyond my ken'--educated exceptions to the stereotype aside, all three of them.

Now I wonder: Why would the more educated use 'beyond my ken' in conversation instead of 'beyond my knowledge' if not to separate themselves from the masses and to declare (by implication) "Hear! Hear! [by my implication] I am educated because I am not using the word 'knowledge,' but the word 'ken' instead. Aren't I a very clever fellow?"

As Consuelo once pointed out to me, there are ways of knowing someone is a 'smarty butt.'

#117848 - 12/18/03 07:12 AM FWIW
AnnaStrophic Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 03/15/00
Posts: 6511
Loc: lower upstate New York
German still preserves a distinction: kennen = to know a person vs wissen to know a thing, a fact.

(wsieber, correct me if need be!)

#117849 - 12/18/03 07:26 AM Re: FWIW
Flatlander Offline

Registered: 01/18/01
Posts: 428
Loc: Cape Cod, MA, US
If I remember High School German correctly, kennen is also used for languages:

Ich kann ein bisschen Deutsch = I know a little German

#117850 - 12/18/03 07:45 AM Re: FWIW
AnnaStrophic Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 03/15/00
Posts: 6511
Loc: lower upstate New York
Nope, that first-person singular "kann" is from the modal können = "can", "be able to". (the infinitive, in this case, sprechen, is understood.)

#117851 - 12/18/03 09:27 AM Re: FWIW
Flatlander Offline

Registered: 01/18/01
Posts: 428
Loc: Cape Cod, MA, US
Ach du lieber! I always had problems with the modals. Vielen Dank!

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