The use of 'nor' without 'neither' or 'not'

Discussion in 'English Only' started by Couch Tomato, Jan 26, 2013.

  1. Couch Tomato

    Couch Tomato Senior Member

    Russian & Dutch
    I had a date with her next day at 2.15 P.M. in my own rooms, but it was less successful, she seemed to have grown less juvenile, more of a woman overnight. A cold I caught from her led me to cancel a fourth assignment, nor was I sorry to break an emotional series that threatened to burden me with heart-rending fantasies and peter out in dull disappointment.
    (Lolita - Vladimir Nabokov)

    This is perhaps a strange question, but is Nabokov's use of 'nor' common? I mean, 'nor' is usually preceded by a negative idea involving either 'neither' or 'not'. For example, these example sentences come from the Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English:

    Hilary was neither shocked nor surprised by the news.
    It was not my fault, nor his.
    They couldn’t understand it at the time, and nor could we.

    (Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English)

    But in Nabokov's sentence we have neither 'neither' nor 'not'. Instead we have 'cancel' which is different.

    What do you think?

    Thank you in advance.
     
  2. Loob

    Loob Senior Member

    English UK
    I'd say that "nor" meaning "and ... not" is pretty common, CT.

    I'm sure there are previous threads on this, but I can't find them at the moment:(.
     
  3. Beryl from Northallerton Moderator

    British English
    >This is perhaps a strange question, but is Nabokov's use of 'nor' common? I mean, 'nor' is usually preceded by a negative idea involving either 'neither' or 'not'.

    I think that this usage is slipping away (despite my best efforts to keep it alive).

    There are the mere bones of a negative idea expressed here, 'A cold I caught from her led me to cancel a fourth assignment', but that negation is insufficiently explicit to meet the modern requirements for justifying a subsequent use of 'nor', in my view. :(
     
  4. Couch Tomato

    Couch Tomato Senior Member

    Russian & Dutch
    Thank you, Loob and Beryl.


    Yes, I that's why I asked. I'd looked up 'nor' in the aforementioned dictionary (http://www.ldoceonline.com/dictionary/nor) but all of the example sentences had either 'neither' or 'not' .
     
  5. rhitagawr

    rhitagawr Senior Member

    Wales
    British English
    In Nabakov's sentence, I'd say neither, although I'd expect it to be preceded by a negative. I'd say It's neither my fault nor his. I'd say They couldn't...and neither could we. However, I'd accept the colloquial nor me as in:
    James: I don't like this.
    Steven: Nor me. (Neither do I.)
    I seem to be disagreeing with Longman's.
     
  6. PaulQ

    PaulQ Senior Member

    UK
    English - England
    I read it as Loob does: nor was I sorry = and I was not sorry. On a scale of 1 to 10, I'd say it was 3 for being common and a reasonably high register.
     
  7. Couch Tomato

    Couch Tomato Senior Member

    Russian & Dutch
    Thank you, rhitagawr and PaulQ.

    Yes, I see, but what struck me was that the negation wasn't explicit. So you don't think, like Beryl, that the negation 'to cancel' isn't explicit enough to meet the modern requirements for justifying a subsequent use of 'nor'?
     
  8. PaulQ

    PaulQ Senior Member

    UK
    English - England
    Whereas I hear what Beryl is saying, I don't think that a native speaker would have any trouble realising what it meant and to that extent, which is the test, the negation is sufficient.
     
  9. Beryl from Northallerton Moderator

    British English
    I wish I shared your optimism, Paul. I think that by modern standards (whatever they are), Nabokov is pretty high blown stuff, and I don't except the OP sentence from that.
     
  10. rhitagawr

    rhitagawr Senior Member

    Wales
    British English
    If I were to judge Nabakov's style from the two OP sentences, which I know I shouldn't, I'd say it was inelegant. It's clear what he means, however. I don't regard cancel as negative. I'd say I wasn't sorry when he stopped trying to cadge money off me. Neither was I sorry when he finally disappeared.
     

Share This Page