can hardly believe what she's getting away with

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VicNicSor

Banned
Russian
A family is having troubles with a poltergeist in the house. This poltergeist, among other things, occasionally jumps into the girl Janet's body, and while it is there, speaks through her with a distorted voice, cursing. Now, a lady is visiting the house, and the poltergeist, through Janet, swore at her several times. Later, that woman tells her husband:
-- And that foul-mouthed little brat. She can hardly believe what she's getting away with.
The Enfield Haunting, TV series

The woman knew there was a poltergeist in the house, but I'm not sure if she realized that the girl swore at her against her will. At that time, in the house, she acted as if nothing was happening. So what in your opinion does the phrase in bold exactly mean? Thanks.

edit: I know what "to get away with" means. The issue is "can hardly believe".
 
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  • Myridon

    Senior Member
    English - US
    I'm guessing that they aren't punishing Janet for cursing because it's the poltergeist's fault? Janet is getting away with something that she would normally be punished for. That seems unreal to her - she can hardly believe it. It's true so she must believe it but it seems like it can't be true.
     

    VicNicSor

    Banned
    Russian
    I'm guessing that they aren't punishing Janet for cursing because it's the poltergeist's fault? Janet is getting away with something that she would normally be punished for. That seems unreal to her - she can hardly believe it. It's true so she must believe it but it seems like it can't be true.
    Wouldn't option #2 express the idea better, what do you think?:
    1. She can hardly believe what she's getting away with.
    2. She can hardly believe that she's getting away with it.
     

    Scott AM

    Senior Member
    English - Canada
    Wouldn't option #2 express the idea better, what do you think?:
    1. She can hardly believe what she's getting away with.
    2. She can hardly believe that she's getting away with it.
    They essentially mean the same thing, but there is a very subtle difference.

    1. Emphasis on what she is doing. She can't believe what she is doing, and getting away with.
    2. Emphasis on that she is getting away with it. She can't believe that she is getting away with doing it.

    As the meanings differ so slightly, I don't think I can say one is better than the other. It's possible the speaker (like most people) didn't analyze the fine points the wording before speaking, either.
     

    VicNicSor

    Banned
    Russian
    1. Emphasis on what she is doing. She can't believe what she is doing, and getting away with.
    I can't actually see how it fits the context. To me, either of the two options below would work:

    She can hardly believe that she's getting away with it.
    She can hardly realize/understand what she's getting away with.

    But, the OP as it stands just doesn't make sense to me in this context. It has an entirely different meaning:confused:
     

    Scott AM

    Senior Member
    English - Canada
    I can't actually see how it fits the context. To me, either of the two options below would work:

    She can hardly believe that she's getting away with it.
    She can hardly realize/understand what she's getting away with.

    But, the OP as it stands just doesn't make sense to me in this context. It has an entirely different meaning:confused:
    Well now your second sentence above introduces a third meaning:

    3. A different emphasis on what she is doing. She can't understand what she is doing, and getting away with. (I don't think this reflects the original meaning at all)
     

    VicNicSor

    Banned
    Russian
    On second thought, my second option in #5 and the OP have similar meaning and now I see how they would work in the OP.

    Thank you for the replies.
     

    Hermione Golightly

    Senior Member
    British English
    -- And that foul-mouthed little brat. She can hardly believe what she's getting away with.
    I can't make head nor tail of the woman visitor's comment.
    It's hard to believe there's not something wrong with the quote in the OP, something to do with the pronouns "she". The OP suggests to me that the woman visitor believes that Janet is pretending to be possessed.
    The visitor seems to be asking how does she (Janet) "get away with" this deception.
     

    VicNicSor

    Banned
    Russian
    The OP suggests to me that the woman visitor believes that Janet is pretending to be possessed.
    The visitor seems to be asking how does she (Janet) "get away with" this deception.
    Or, as an option, it could just be something unbelievable, incredible. The woman may think that Janet doesn't pretend, but the words that came out of her mouth were so awful that she must be very happy to get away with that, even though she's possessed:D That's how I took the sentence. Is that possible?
     

    Scott AM

    Senior Member
    English - Canada
    I can't make head nor tail of the woman visitor's comment.
    It's hard to believe there's not something wrong with the quote in the OP, something to do with the pronouns "she". The OP suggests to me that the woman visitor believes that Janet is pretending to be possessed.
    The visitor seems to be asking how does she (Janet) "get away with" this deception.
    Oh, I definitely get the impression that the visitor thinks that Janet is pretending. The comment about "that foul-mouthed little brat" might be why? ;)

    It is good to point out that the sentence is spoken by the visitor. So really, we aren't commenting on what Janet actually thinks, we're commenting on what the visitor believes that Janet is thinking. Which I still think is expressed in post #2, and in my later post #4, sentence #2.
     
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