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This testimonial I accordingly received in about a month, forwarded a copy of it to Mrs. Fairfax, and got that lady’s reply, stating that she was satisfied, and fixing that day fortnight as the period for my assuming the post of governess in her house.
(Jane Eyre)

Is the highlighted noun phrase the case of a complement for the noun – an adjective function?

  • 2
    @Kiamlaluno's answer is correct in traditional grammar. Prof. Aarts would probably regard as the period ... as an Object-related predicative complement licensed by fix: the idiom is fix [DATE] [as OCCASION]. – StoneyB Mar 7 '13 at 12:28
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"That day fortnight" is the direct object for fixing; it means "two weeks starting from that day." "As the period for my assuming the post of governess in her house" is an adverbial phrase that modifies fixing.

"Fortnight as the period" doesn't have the function of adjective.

3

I'm not sure this usage of fortnight was ever common. It's practically unheard of today, though we do still use the format with week. I'm not sure about modern Americans, but to most British native speakers...

"(I'll see you) Monday week"

...means I'll see you on Monday a week after the first Monday following today. By the same principle, Jane means a fortnight after "that day"*, but at the very least you'd raise a few eyebrows if you used the form today (many native speakers wouldn't just find it "odd"; they wouldn't understand you at all).

The sentence also sounds stilted because of the way it uses the word period. Jane is actually specifying the date on which she will assume the post of governess, rather than the "period" between the date of speaking and the date she starts work. In modern English she'd say ...as the date for assuming the post.

  • In BE, fortnight was trending up when JE was written, peaked in the early 1930s and has been in decline since the mid-1950s. Xday fortnight and Xday week have marched pretty much in lockstep since about 1860. This use of period is not a 'period' thing but appears to be idiolectal to Brontë: OED 1 doesn't acknowledge it. – StoneyB Mar 8 '13 at 16:21
  • @StoneyB: I wasn't really concerned with any possible decline in prevalence of the actual word fortnight. My point was that usages like "We'll meet again Friday fortnight" sounded really odd to me (whereas "We'll meet Friday week" sounds perfectly normal). In fact, checking Google Books more carefully, it seems this particular usage of fortnight was still reasonably common a couple of centuries ago, tailing off rapidly through the latter half of C19. – FumbleFingers Mar 8 '13 at 16:59

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