Discussion in 'English Only' started by QuangHai, Jul 26, 2017.

  1. QuangHai Senior Member

    "All the same, when I was talking with him I felt in his life the constant presence of an unknown woman. I cannot say who she may have been: wife, mother, school-dame or wife of his first employer,—in my thoughts I called her Madam Knudsen."
    (quoted from Our of Africa by I. Dinensen)

    May I read the red words as: the teacher who teachs him reading/learning, the first teacher in his life.

  2. AutumnOwl Senior Member

    School-dame = a female teacher, often middle-aged or older, but not necessarily his first teacher (from my understanding of the use of the word in the Scandinavian languages). It's old-fashioned but still sometimes used, see - Ei ordentlig skoledame here about a principal. Perhas it's used differently in English, but Danish was the first language of Isak Dinesen.
  3. Andygc

    Andygc Senior Member

    British English
    School-dame is very old-fashioned in English. I think you'd have to go back to the mid-19th century to find a writer using it in a contemporary context.
  4. QuangHai Senior Member

    @AutumnOwl: Thanks
    @Andygc: The author was born in 1885. The book was published in 1937.
  5. Andygc

    Andygc Senior Member

    British English
    Yes, but in Denmark. I think that AutumnOwl correctly refers to what might be normal in Danish but not in English. Dame schools had almost completely disappeared in Britain before the end of the 19th century. Dinesen was using an English translation of a Danish term, but the translation was becoming obsolete in English before she was born.

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