'Except' as an adverb?

ThomasK

Senior Member
Belgium, Dutch
Hi,
I am just translating "Sensing God" by Laurence Freeman, and on p. 63 I find two sentences using "except" but not as a prep. or a conjunction, I think. Is that a new use?

(1) "So what is the mind that is aware of this duality within us? The third which makes one. Except it is a non-numerical oneness, a unity and a union in which ..." Can I simply read it as : "except that ..."? Sounds strange to me. I'd expect "but"...

(2) "... open [...] to the God we only discover in humility? Except we do even that in humility." --- I could have imagined something like "Yet, ..."
 
  • velisarius

    Senior Member
    British English (Sussex)
    I agree with your alternatives.:)

    "Except", as this writer is using it, sounds rather "conversational", and I assume that is the effect he wanted.
     

    se16teddy

    Senior Member
    English - England
    You may find the OED's earliest example interesting!

    1569 R. Grafton Chron. II. 260 Then there came..men of estate [= wealthy, I guess] out of the good Townes of Flaundyrs [Flanders] except out of Gaunt [Ghent] there came none.

    The OED lists this use as a conjunction.
     
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    ThomasK

    Senior Member
    Belgium, Dutch
    The quote would be quite OK to me because part of the sentence , "out of Ghent", seems to depend on "except" and the rest could be considered a main clause ("there came none"). In my quotes there is a main clause, but the "except" seems to be used like an adverb.

    I have a feeling I understand the sentences I refer to, but the use of "except" seems quite peculiar. He does indeed aim at modern, conversational English, whereas the content is profound, I would say, if that is the right word...
     

    PaulQ

    Banned
    UK
    English - England
    but the use of "except" seems quite peculiar.
    I suspect that you are used to it the other way around:

    But = except

    A: "There are lot of shirts for sale but there are none I like." -> A: "There are lot of shirts for sale, except there are none I like."

    "He would have died but for the doctor who saved him."
    "He would have died except for the doctor who saved him."
     

    exgerman

    Senior Member
    NYC
    English but my first language was German
    Except as a conjunction is fairly common in the King James version of the Bible. For example John 3:3
    Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.
    So it is not exceptional in a religious context such as the OP's quote.
     

    PaulQ

    Banned
    UK
    English - England
    So it is not exceptional in a religious context such as the OP's quote.
    It is interesting that several Christian sects adopt the 16th century language of the King James version, whereas others are happy to accept that God understands modern English. :)

    In 16th century English, "Except a man be born again," except = unless + subjunctive/ unless if - an otherwise obsolete use.
     
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    RedwoodGrove

    Senior Member
    English, USA
    What may be throwing Thomas K off is that "except" starts the sentence. That is the usage that I was referring to as common conversational in the US. I think PaulQ dealt with that in post #6.
     
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