anything beyond that is a blessing

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vichy

Senior Member
mongolian
Dear all,
I need to understand this sentence correctly. It was in the newscientist.com web page. I can provide you with a full context in order to make my question understandable.

All pregnant women spend nine months hoping and praying that their children will be born healthy and normal.
Ten fingers and ten toes is the standard baby wish, and anything beyond that is a blessing.

Anything beyond that is a blessing
- means except this standard wish (10 fingers and toes), any other wish for having a normal baby is just blessing (or praying), right?
Thanks in advance for taking time!
 
Last edited:
  • kalamazoo

    Senior Member
    US, English
    I don't think it means that any "wish" beyond that is a blessing. It means that anything you get, beyond the 10 fingers 10 toes, is something you should feel grateful to have gotten or that is a blessing, not something you should take for granted.
     

    Silver10

    Member
    English - U.S.
    I don't think it means that any "wish" beyond that is a blessing. It means that anything you get, beyond the 10 fingers 10 toes, is something you should feel grateful to have gotten or that is a blessing, not something you should take for granted.
    Yes, this is how I understood it too.
     

    AngelEyes

    Senior Member
    English - United States
    Biblio,
    First of all, thank you for giving me a word I've never heard of before.

    Vichy, in my mind, it really goes beyond just the fact a baby is born with ten fingers and ten toes. It represents the mother's wish that the baby be totally healthy and whole, although it only uses the fingers and toes part. If the baby were born blind or with brain damage, the mother wouldn't consider herself blessed with good luck because the baby had all its fingers and toes.

    This saying carries much more than what it actually says, and most people familiar with it would totally understand that. In other words, she doesn't really mean it. Anything beyond just having ten fingers and ten toes is NOT a blessing if other stuff is missing.

    That's why I think Bibliolept's word - synecdoche - really makes sense. Ten fingers and ten toes represents just a part of the whole baby. It can't be taken literally that the mother would be satisfied with just those perfect features.

    We say that certain things are a blessing, but we don't really mean it if you take our words literally.

    Blessing here is used to mean that she feels fortunate in some way.

    AngelEyes
     

    vichy

    Senior Member
    mongolian
    Thanks Angeleyes! Now I am completely sure that I understand the meaning very well! Mother's wish is to have a totally healthy and normal baby. But they feel anxiety so much and pray that may the baby have at least ten fingers and toes which is the least feature of a normal baby. Right?
     

    AngelEyes

    Senior Member
    English - United States
    Yes, Vichy, that's exactly what I meant.

    At the very least, Mothers want their babies to have ten fingers and ten toes. :)

    Secretly, they pray for more than that and would not want anything less than a perfectly healthy baby. That's a real blessing.

    Maybe it's like a superstition we have sometimes: don't be greedy, in case a Higher Power wants to teach us a lesson about humility. (That's not my philosophy, but I think some believe this.)

    And I really like that fancy word Bibliolept tied to your question.

    AngelEyes
     

    JayGatz

    New Member
    English - US
    My two cents, I don't really know if the original article used the phrase very well to start with. The problem is that what is the "blessing" beyond a healthy, whole baby? I am going to assume they are implicitly meaning "intelligence, beauty, etc." are the blessings, but find the use somewhat odd.

    I would usually expect to see this phrase used to describe a situation where a somewhat negative outcome is expected. Imagine a family that had to evacuate their home during a bad storm, they might tell a reporter:

    "We hope to return home and find our house in one piece, anything beyond that would be a blessing"

    So they are unsure if they will even find their house in one piece, but will be happy if that is ALL they find. Anything beyond that baseline is a reason for more joy (power works, water works, car works, etc.). The phrase makes more sense to me here since it references a departure from the expected negative, instead of the positive-on-positive of the original quote.
     
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