there is [something] truly forbidding in a child

Irelia20150604

Senior Member
Chinese
The context comes from Jane Eyre Chapter 1
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The said Eliza, John, and Georgiana were now clustered round their mama in the drawing-room: she lay reclined on a sofa by the fireside, and with her darlings about her (for the time neither quarrelling nor crying) looked perfectly happy. Me, she had dispensed from joining the group; saying, "She regretted to be under the necessity of keeping me at a distance; but that until she heard from Bessie, and could discover by her own observation, that I was endeavouring in good earnest to acquire a more sociable and childlike disposition, a more attractive and sprightly manner-- something lighter, franker, more natural, as it were--she really must exclude me from privileges intended only for contented, happy, little children.

"What does Bessie say I have done?" I asked.

"Jane, I don't like cavilers or questioners; besides, there is something truly forbidding in a child taking up her elders in that manner.
====
I don't quite understand the sentence "there is something truly forbidding in a child...". I've seen many interpret it as "A child....is really disagreeable". But I think there is a little difference between the understanding and what the author really wants to say. I think it precisely means "A child....is really disagreeable to some extent". Is it right?
 
  • Hspo

    Senior Member
    British English (Yorkshire)
    Yes, I think here it means unattractive, unfriendly, unapproachable or even hostile. It's about an attitude in a child that would be disapproved of.
     

    Irelia20150604

    Senior Member
    Chinese
    Yeah, thank you for your explanation. I believe it would be more precise to interpret it as "an attitude in a child that would be disapproved of" than as "the child himself that would be disapproved of". :D
     

    Hermione Golightly

    Senior Member
    British English
    I don't quite understand the sentence "there is something truly forbidding in a child...". I've seen many interpret it as "A child....is really disagreeable". But I think there is a little difference between the understanding and what the author really wants to say. I think it precisely means "A child....is really disagreeable to some extent". Is it right?
    I think we need to discuss the whole sentence because if you rewrite a part the rest needs to be re-written. Is this for your own understanding or are you translating.
    'Forbidding' is a far stronger word than 'disagreeable'. Below are some definitions from the WR Random House Dictionary entry, accessible at the top of the page.
    I think 'truly forbidding' has more the sense of dangerous, hostile, even sinister.
    1. grim;
      unfriendly;
      hostile;
      sinister:his forbidding countenance.
    1. dangerous; threatening:forbidding clouds;
      forbidding cliffs.
    Let's say ' ... really sinister about a child ...'.

    Now, what does 'something' mean? It would be very strange to modify 'really sinister' by a phrase that means 'in part' or 'a little bit' or 'to some extent'. It reminds me of 'a little bit pregnant' or 'somewhat unique'.
    'That child is to some extent/ partially really sinister'. I would feel like asking sarcastically, what about the rest, are her toes sinister too?

    In BritSpeak, 'something + derogative ' means 'absolutely + derogative'.

    "There's something truly despicable in that woman" means "That woman is absolutely despicable".

    'Truly' and 'really' do not mean 'to some extent' or 'rather'.

    I think it precisely means "A child....is really disagreeable to some extent". Is it right?
    I can't agree with you. :(
     

    se16teddy

    Senior Member
    English - England
    I think it means that the child has reproved, interrupted or dissented against (taken up) an adult, and there is something very scary or off-putting about that behaviour.
     
    Last edited:

    Hspo

    Senior Member
    British English (Yorkshire)

    Irelia20150604

    Senior Member
    Chinese
    Is this for your own understanding or are you translating.
    "A child....is really disagreeable" comes from one of well-known Chinese translations of Jane Eyre, and I don't quite understand "something" here.
    In BritSpeak, 'something + derogative ' means 'absolutely + derogative'.

    "There's something truly despicable in that woman" means "That woman is absolutely despicable".
    Thank you for your explanation! Now it's clear! :D:D

    Let's say ' ... really sinister about a child ...'.
    there is something very scary or off-putting about that behaviour.
    Thanks. I understand "forbidding" here now. :idea:
     
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