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January 06, 2009


P Wolfskehl

Very sorry to read about your grandmother's passing. My condolences.

Also, did you read Stephen Greenblatt's most recent piece in the New York Review, which takes up many of the points in your post on Shakespeare and the dogs?

Now to steerage:
Merriam-Webster's Online Dictionary gives the following explanation for this meaning of steerage:

2 [from its originally being located near the rudder] : a section of inferior accommodations in a passenger ship for passengers paying the lowest fares

American Heritage © Dictionary of the English Language: Fourth Edition. 2000. gives as definite 2 Nautical:
c. The section of a passenger ship, originally near the rudder, providing the cheapest passenger accommodations.

ARTFL Project: Webster Dictionary, 1913, bears these out, with its second definition:
2. (Naut.) (a) The effect of the helm on a ship; the manner in which an individual ship is affected by the helm. (b) The hinder part of a vessel; the stern. [R.] Swift. (c) Properly, the space in the after part of a vessel, under the cabin, but used generally to indicate any part of a vessel having the poorest accommodations and occupied by passengers paying the lowest rate of fare.

And lastly, from the 1828 Noah Webster's Dictionary of the English Language online, there're these two definitions, which seem to suggest that it's not exactly the aft part of the ship, but really the passenger area near where the ship is steered (the tiller, for example), which has led to the expanded and now most common connotation of this term:

3. In a ship, an apartment forward of the great cabin, from which it is separated by a bulk-head or partition, or an apartment in the fore part of a ship for passengers. In ships of war it serves as a hall or antichamber to the great cabin.

4. The part of a ship where the tiller traverses.

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