gently advising them to sheer to the right or the left,

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enkidu68

Senior Member
turkish
Hi folks, this is cited from Redburn by Hermann Melville (1849)

Do truckmen (they drive horses) advise to the people or horses to shun?





I never could get any thing out of these truckmen. They are a reserved, sober-sided set, who, with all possible solemnity, march at the head of their animals; now and then gently advising them to sheer to the right or the left, in order to avoid some passing vehicle. Then spending so much of their lives in the high-bred company of their horses, seems to have mended their manners and improved their taste, besides imparting to them something of the dignity of their animals; but it has also given to them a sort of refined and uncomplaining aversion to human society.
 
  • enkidu68

    Senior Member
    turkish
    I knew what shun means. To stay away from something, to avoid something:
    So horses are very intelligent animals, they can shun something if they feel it is dangerous, (In my opinion)
     

    Andygc

    Senior Member
    British English
    There's no shunning involved, enkidu. When Melville wrote "now and then gently advising them to sheer to the right or the left" he was using "sheer" to mean "make a small alteration of course". They would gently pull the lead horse to the left or right to make sufficient alteration of the course steered by the wagon to avoid colliding with passing vehicles. The word "shun" is wholly inappropriate to mean "avoid collision with another vehicle".
     

    natkretep

    Moderato con anima (English Only)
    English (Singapore/UK), basic Chinese
    Sheer is an unusual word to use, though. It's associated with navigating boats. I might use veer instead myself.
     
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