a false little thing

longxianchen

Senior Member
chinese
Hi,
Here are some words from the novel Lady Chatterley's Lover(para. 220) by Lawrence(the University of Adelaide,here):

Mrs Flint appeared. She was a woman of Constance’s own age, had been a school-teacher, but Connie suspected her of being rather a false little thing.
‘Why, it’s Lady Chatterley! Why!’ And Mrs Flint’s eyes glowed again, and she flushed like a young girl.


There are many meaning for the word "little". One Chinese version translated little thing as "person with lower social position". But I suspect it means "narrow-minded" or "snob person". However, no dictionary supports me.

Could you please give me an explanation?
Thank you in advance
 
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  • bennymix

    Senior Member
    I think it means that Mrs Flint was an insignificant person, who was given to social pretense (trying to look good and mannerly).
    I don't think the reference is to her somewhat lower social class.

    I don't think you should think of 'false' as in 'false friend' or 'false cheques'; illegal, disorderlly, but more generally as not authentic; putting up a (false) front for social reasons.
    Think of a false wall, or a self promoting autobiography what we say 'rings false'.
     
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    Hermione Golightly

    Senior Member
    British English
    It is a use of 'little' which belittles! It means here that Connie didn't think much of this person. She suspected that the woman was 'false', which might mean hypocritical or simply not straightforward, I don't know.
    It could be a reference to the woman's inferior status. Connie certainly is status conscious despite her sympathy for the miners and her scorn for her husband and his friends.
    It would be strange to use a term of endearment alongside an unpleasant assessment like 'false'.
     

    Hermione Golightly

    Senior Member
    British English
    'A false guy'? She's a woman, not some sort of male impersonator. How can we advise you what the Chinese translation is?

    I think that another way of thinking of 'false' is somebody with social pretensions. That would fit well with the woman's teacher status and the pejorative adjective 'little'. I suggest 'pretentious'.
     

    bennymix

    Senior Member
    One might note that the visit with Mrs Flint goes well, no rough spots. Connie is not reported as making observations of the sort 'look what a bad [or even 'unpleasant']person she is.' It's a very social meeting, a tea, following the rules. It's social artifice.

    No hearts are bared, and the point of the scene is Connie's encounter with the very young child ('mite') of Mrs. Flint
     

    dojibear

    Senior Member
    English - Northeast US
    Hi,
    Here are some words from the novel Lady Chatterley's Lover(para. 220) by Lawrence(the University of Adelaide,here):

    Mrs Flint appeared. She was a woman of Constance’s own age, had been a school-teacher, but Connie suspected her of being rather a false little thing.
    ‘Why, it’s Lady Chatterley! Why!’ And Mrs Flint’s eyes glowed again, and she flushed like a young girl.


    There are many meaning for the word "little". One Chinese version translated little thing as "person with lower social position". But I suspect it means "narrow-minded" or "snob person". However, no dictionary supports me.

    Could you please give me an explanation?
    Thank you in advance
    Here "little" does not mean social position, not narrow-minded, not snob. It means physically small. A small woman.

    A "little thing" is a term used for a (small) woman. Common in Texas. Usually goes along with an adjective: "she is the sweetest little thing you ever met". "Well, aren't you the most stubborn little thing". It is talking down a little, but not enough to be insulting.

    It could be used for a small child as well, "cutest little thing".
     

    Hermione Golightly

    Senior Member
    British English
    I am reasonably confident that here, 'little' doesn't refer to Mrs Flint's size. It certainly does when the baby is described. It would be very strange in British English to put the adjectives 'false' and 'little' together. This novel isn't set in Texas.
    Even when one says a 'sweet little thing' of a grown woman, it doesn't refer to the woman's size. It's derogatory. It strongly suggests that metaphorically the woman is of lesser status ('stature') than the speaker. The Flints are tenants of the Chatterleys. Constance is irritated by the woman's fussing and making such a show for her, not allowing her to leave by the back door for example. That's an example of 'littleness'.
     

    bennymix

    Senior Member
    Hermione: Constance is irritated by the woman's fussing and making such a show for her, not allowing her to leave by the back door for example. That's an example of 'littleness'.

    ===
    Just my opinions below, Hermione; yours are always enlightening. :)
    I've read through the conversation and it seems quite pleasant. I see no signs of 'irritation' or displeasure in Connie.
    It's simply a bit of play-acting, the tea ceremony; in that sense, the interaction is false--artificial-- in that no one is revealing their authentic self (a Lawrence theme). Mrs. Link loves the artifice of 'polite society'.
     
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    velisarius

    Senior Member
    British English (Sussex)
    I think Constance believes this woman is "insincere": although she used to be a school-teacher, she is not the kind of educated woman Connie can have a conversation with on equal social and intellectual terms. I feel Connie wants female company at this point and may even have a great need to have a chat with another female who might understand her to some extent. But they aren't on the same wavelength - that's why the other is "false". "Little thing" (even though they are the same age) shows that our Connie feels some contempt for her.
     
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