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Hoskins: The making of the English Landscape: Language

Hoskins has a finely-tuned ear for language, as we see in his explanation of the origin of the word ‘slum’, which adds vividly to the general image we already have of what conditions in these houses were like. Hoskins’ choice of words also helps to put across just what he thinks of the people he is describing. The fact that earlier generations had ‘wisely’ chosen not to build on these areas makes it all the more reprehensible that the factory owners did; that sardonic ‘it need hardly be said’ and the image of the mill owner leaving his pleasant hilltop retreat to descend to the grime of his mill each day makes clear Hoskins’ contempt for this new generation of industrialists of the ‘Steam Age’ compared with the hard-working pioneers of the eighteenth century who lived above their shop. It is interesting that Hoskins puts inverted commas around ‘residential heights’; it is almost as if he is saying ‘residential heights my foot!’

 

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