not so unheard of ?

Discussion in 'English Only' started by ddubug, Dec 29, 2009.

  1. ddubug Senior Member

    Korea
    Hi,

    I'm reading 'Guinea Pig Diaries' written by AJ Jacobs.

    <I've outsorced my life to Honey. I asked her to wirte an entry in
    Wikipedia about me. It reads is part:

    A. J. Jacobs is a not so unheard of international figure, who can
    threaten the most au courant wizards with his knowledge
    ...
    he is a writer and editor of phenomenal grey matter.>

    Let me dumb down this.
    Please check if it's right.

    A.J. Jacobs is a little known internationally.
    He is not yet the famous person who can threaten
    the most intelligent people with his knowledge.


    Am I right?

    The point of this is 'He is not that famous'?
    It's a weird comment for Wekipedia thing....

    Please help me.
     
  2. mplsray Senior Member

    Not so unheard of international figure is a weird example of litotes. I think you are close to right: A.J. Jacobs is a little known international figure....

    The phrase "who can threaten the most au courant wizards with his knowledge" means "who can threaten those with the most updated knowledge with his own knowledge." You're right about him being "not that famous," though.
     
  3. Aidanriley

    Aidanriley Senior Member

    SD, California
    English
    Not so unheard of - fairly well-known
     
  4. Copyright

    Copyright Senior Member

    Penang
    American English
    Unheard of? Not so... he's quite well-known.
     
  5. ddubug Senior Member

    Korea
    Ok...Thank you...

    But still confusing...

    You mean...

    1. He is fairly, quite well known.
    So he can threaten the most intelligent people with his knowledge.


    or....

    2. He is 'not' quite well known.
    So he can't yet threaten the most intelligent people with his knowledge.


    What is right? No. 1, or 2???
     
  6. Copyright

    Copyright Senior Member

    Penang
    American English
    Number One.
     
  7. mplsray Senior Member

    Neither is right, in my opinion.

    First, you have to forget any causal connection between the part of the sentence beginning "who can threaten..." and the first part of the sentence. Whatever the author is saying in the first part of the sentence, the second part remains true.

    I continue to believe that "not so unheard of international figure" here means "a person somewhat known internationally," not "a person internationally well-known." Given that the whole thing is written tongue-in cheek, I can't be sure about that without learning the truth from the author herself (or the author of the book, who shows approval of the passage and seems to know what it means).
     
  8. Loob

    Loob Senior Member

    English UK
    Ray's point is crucial.
     
  9. Copyright

    Copyright Senior Member

    Penang
    American English
    The only reason for my first reply was that you originally you suggested: "A.J. Jacobs is a little known international figure...." which is different from "a person somewhat known internationally."

    But because, as you say, it's tongue-in-cheek, I think "internationally well-known" might be a little closer, at least for me. Still, it's hair-splitting and not very important -- the meanings is that he's fairly well-known rather than unknown.
     

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