furbished (=furnished) him with what he had already suspected. [M. Peake's "Titus Groan". (known misprint)]

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SuprunP

Senior Member
Ukrainian & Russian
The youth [Steerpike] had waylaid Nannie Slagg on her way to the aunts and had inquired whether he could save her feet by delivering her message to them. At first she had been disinclined to divulge the nature of her mission, but when she at last furbished him with what he had already suspected, he promised he would inform them at once of the Gathering, and, after a pretence of going in their direction, he had returned to the Prunesquallors’ in time for his midday meal.
(M. Peake; Titus Groan;Preparations for Arson)

Would you be so kind to explain to me how 'to furbish' seemingly turned into 'to tell'?

Thanks.
 
  • Andygc

    Senior Member
    British English
    Yes, it should be furnished, but the error may be either the author's or the typesetter's - it occurs in three different editions of the book.
    Vintage Press 1998 (ISBN 9780749394929) and 1999 (ISBN 9780099288893) , which are not from the same typesetting, and the edition printed by The Overlook Press, Woodstock, NY (ISBN: 0-87951-628-3)
     

    Thomas Tompion

    Senior Member
    English - England
    I'm inclined to wonder if this is not an error but a deliberate malapropism.

    The rest of the sentence is evocative, maybe, of a particular way of talking.

    I couldn't read the book for this sort of sylistic reason.
     

    Cagey

    post mod (English Only / Latin)
    English - US
    The later reprints of the novel have 'furbished', as Andygc has established.

    However the original (1946) edition has furnished:
    At first she had been disinclined to divulge the nature of her mission, but when she at last furnished him with what he had already suspected, he promised he would inform them at once of the Gathering, and, after a pretence of going in their ...
    Titus Groan: a gothic novel by Mervyn Laurence Peake (Reynal & Hitchcock, 1946)
     

    Thomas Tompion

    Senior Member
    English - England
    Good research, Cagey. Well done!

    It's such an odd mistake to introduce into later additions. To furnish is a much more common word (7,455th on a common word frequency list) than to furbish (not in the first 60,000, though refurbish is 20,944th).
     

    Cagey

    post mod (English Only / Latin)
    English - US
    I don't know how the reprints were made, but if a copy of the original was scanned to produced the image for printing, the mistake may be explained as a scanning error. Possibly a flawed 'n' was read as a 'b' by the scanner.
     

    Thomas Tompion

    Senior Member
    English - England
    I wondered about scanning. Isn't it odd to read as letter like n, which has neither an ascender nor a descender, as b, which is ascending? I'm surprised, but I've not much experienced of scanning.
     

    Thomas Tompion

    Senior Member
    English - England
    Yes, and they're both right-hand letters too - letters a professional typist would type with the right hand.

    The b requires a stretch and the n not.

    So it's certainly a candidate for a typo.
     

    SuprunP

    Senior Member
    Ukrainian & Russian
    Thank you all!

    Yes, and they're both right-hand letters too - letters a professional typist would type with the right hand.
    I beg to differ here. 'B' is typed with the left, whereas 'n' with the right hand.
     

    sdgraham

    Senior Member
    USA English
    A side note, but "furbish" has an intriguing record of misuse.

    A number of years ago, when I was editing news copy, one neophyte writer wrote that two robbers entered a bank, furbishing their guns. He gave me a blank stare when I asked him if the robbers had to disassemble the weapons first.

    Then, just last month, a story out of Longview, Washington, talked about a woman who foiled a carjacking by furbishing a handgun.

    In these cases, the word was confused with "brandish."

    Ergo, i'm not surprised at the error brought up by the OP.
     
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    Thomas Tompion

    Senior Member
    English - England
    Thank you all!



    I beg to differ here. 'B' is typed with the left, whereas 'n' with the right hand.
    I'm not going to contradict you, Suprun. I try not to do that without checking my facts.

    The tutor I bought to teach me the positions when I was in my teens had three letter stretches with the right hand, y h & b, and three letter stretches with the left hand, t g & v. I have used this system all my life.

    Looking at modern tutorials on touch-typing, I see that b is generally a stretch for the left hand, as you suggest.

    I wonder if views about this have changed over the years. I'm certainly not going to change now. I threw my tutor away decades ago, so I can't quote it.

    If the typist who typed the second edition in the late 40s learnt the same system as I use, she will have used the right hand for both b and n, which makes them, perhaps, easier to mistake for each other.

    I'm amused to learn that I'm not using the system which is generally taught nowadays. This was news to me.

    PS. SDG's suggestion that this is a common malapropism may point to the explanation.
     
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