All that time flopped about in a heap had not been wasted.

HSS

Senior Member
Standard Japanese, Sendaian Japanese
Can anyone please parse this sentence? Which word is the subject? Which is the subject head, actually? 'Time'? 'All that time (that was) flopped about in a heap'? I am totally lost with this.

This made him appear both much younger and much less capable than either Reuben or Philip. It also made him a great deal of work. On the other hand, he had some truly inspired moments of activity. All that time flopped about in a heap had not been wasted; Brucie had unusual savvy about what made others tick, no doubt acquired from so much observation, and his sole joy appeared to come from disrupting relationships.
('Ghost Girl' by Torey L. Hayden)
 
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  • pob14

    Senior Member
    American English
    "All that time (that he had spent) flopped about in a heap had not been wasted." The simple sentence is "All that time had not been wasted."

    Apparently, "he" spent a lot of time flopped about in a heap. This somehow gave him insight into others (apparently by spending a lot of time watching them).
     

    se16teddy

    Senior Member
    English - England
    Yes, there are (at least) two colloquial features here that one might not find in traditional grammars:
    - the use of the "dangling modifier" to refer to the person we are talking about, though he is not mentioned.
    - the use of the -ed form from an intransitive verb to create a neologism with the force of a past participle active.
     

    HSS

    Senior Member
    Standard Japanese, Sendaian Japanese
    pob14, thanks.

    'He spent a lot of time flopped about in a heap'
    You mean 'a lot of time flopping about in a heap'?
     

    HSS

    Senior Member
    Standard Japanese, Sendaian Japanese
    Okay on that. Thanks.

    'All that time flopped about in a heap': This structure seems to be like the expression 'time started' seen in, say, a log for something, meaning 'time (something) started.'
     

    velisarius

    Senior Member
    British English (Sussex)
    No, I don't think you could. If you "flop about", you are moving. There's not much context, but it looks as though this person just lies around in a heap. Colloquially I could say "He's flopped all over the place in a heap". (He takes up a lot of space, but he's not moving around the room.)
     
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