gut-wrenching story that is <amazing to behold>

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Kurt Jiang

Senior Member
china mandarin chinese
Hi, there

My friend asked me a sentence as follow: "What you get is instead a very gut wrenching story that is amazing to behold" I wasn't able to understand it very well, just guessed: you have get a very wonderful story ,and it's worth holding. Would you give me some advices?

Thank you !

Kurt!
 
  • coiffe

    Senior Member
    USA
    American English
    Hi, there

    My friend asked me a sentence as follow: "What you get is instead a very gut wrenching story that is amazing to behold" I wasn't able to understand it very well, just guessed: you have get a very wonderful story ,and it's worth holding. Would you give me some advices?

    Thank you !

    Kurt!
    You got most of it. "Behold" means to look at.
     

    bibliolept

    Senior Member
    AE, Español
    To "behold" means to perceive, view, or consider; to hear or otherwise experience the story produces amazement.

    The more common phrasing would be, I believe, "What you get instead is... ," inverting the order of "is" and "instead." Perhaps that is more understandable.
     

    coiffe

    Senior Member
    USA
    American English
    Actually it isn't quite right to say that a "story" is amazing to behold. It's okay, but it's really not right. More common would be that a beautiful woman is amazing to behold, or the way in which Kasparov wins a chess game is amazing to behold, or the way in which a tennis master controls the court from the net is amazing to behold.

    A "story" is amazing to consider, amazing to contemplate, amazing to hear or fully digest. Not amazing to behold.
     

    Kurt Jiang

    Senior Member
    china mandarin chinese
    Actually it isn't quite right to say that a "story" is amazing to behold. It's okay, but it's really not right. More common would be that a beautiful woman is amazing to behold, or the way in which Kasparov wins a chess game is amazing to behold, or the way in which a tennis master controls the court from the net is amazing to behold.

    A "story" is amazing to consider, amazing to contemplate, amazing to hear or fully digest. Not amazing to behold.
    thank you for your detailed explanation of "behold", I will keep it in my heart! So a book related things can't use this word neither, right?

    Kurt!
     

    coiffe

    Senior Member
    USA
    American English
    thank you for your detailed explanation of "behold", I will keep it in my heart! So a book related things can't use this word neither, right?

    Kurt!
    Kurt,

    You might behold the cover of a book with amazement, but you wouldn't "behold" the story or the narrative inside. You would think about it, you would reflect upon it, you would consider it or digest it slowly with growing amazement, but you wouldn't behold it. "Behold" is very visual, somehow connected with optics, with seeing. That's why you could behold the beautiful cover of a book with amazement, but not ... an abstract story.

    That said, it's possible to use it that way -- I just don't think it's quite right.

    coiffe
     

    Kurt Jiang

    Senior Member
    china mandarin chinese
    Kurt,

    You might behold the cover of a book with amazement, but you wouldn't "behold" the story or the narrative inside. You would think about it, you would reflect upon it, you would consider it or digest it slowly with growing amazement, but you wouldn't behold it. "Behold" is very visual, somehow connected with optics, with seeing. That's why you could behold the beautiful cover of a book with amazement, but not ... an abstract story.

    That said, it's possible to use it that way -- I just don't think it's quite right.

    coiffe
    coiffe, I am very clear about the usage of "behold" now , otherwise for the word "instead "here, does it mean that you take this amazing story as a substitute for something else.

    Thank you!

    Kurt!
     

    coiffe

    Senior Member
    USA
    American English
    coiffe, I am very clear about the usage of "behold" now , otherwise for the word "instead "here, does it mean that you take this amazing story as a substitute for something else.

    Thank you!

    Kurt!
    I think the "instead" means the amazing gut-wrenching story is counter to your expectations. You'd have to look at the previous couple of sentences to see what the expectation was. But here, the sentence is saying in effect, "Instead of what you might have expected, you got an amazing story."
     

    Kurt Jiang

    Senior Member
    china mandarin chinese
    I think the "instead" means the amazing gut-wrenching story is counter to your expectations. You'd have to look at the previous couple of sentences to see what the expectation was. But here, the sentence is saying in effect, "Instead of what you might have expected, you got an amazing story."
    thank you very much for your patience!

    Kurt!
     

    JamesM

    Senior Member
    Kurt,

    You might behold the cover of a book with amazement, but you wouldn't "behold" the story or the narrative inside. You would think about it, you would reflect upon it, you would consider it or digest it slowly with growing amazement, but you wouldn't behold it. "Behold" is very visual, somehow connected with optics, with seeing. That's why you could behold the beautiful cover of a book with amazement, but not ... an abstract story.

    That said, it's possible to use it that way -- I just don't think it's quite right.

    coiffe
    I think you could "behold" a film. Was your friend speaking of a book, a film, or what?
     

    coiffe

    Senior Member
    USA
    American English
    I think you could "behold" a film. Was your friend speaking of a book, a film, or what?
    I almost said "Good point," it could have been a film. But then, think about it. "Behold" really implies a snapshot, a still -- not a complete movie. You watch a movie, you don't behold it. Maybe you could behold a short succession of scenes, like God turning the bush into the burning bush. But not a full-length film -- wouldn't you agree?

    For example, if you said:

    "Let's go to the mall and behold "No Country for Old Men," it would sound pretty perverse. At least it would to my ear.
     

    bibliolept

    Senior Member
    AE, Español
    I've never heard this definition before. Where does it come from?
    I don't know if you'll find it in a dictionary; my assertion was based on my experiences with the word as similar to "never-wracking." Webster's New Millennium does list one definition that partially supports my assertion, "having a powerful effect on one's feelings."
     

    Dimcl

    Senior Member
    Canadian English
    Webster's New Millennium does list one definition that partially supports my assertion, "having a powerful effect on one's feelings."
    Which sounds much like my definition of "emotionally stressful".

    I can't find a definition of "gut-wrenching" to be "thrilling" or "exciting" anywhere. There may, I suppose, be some sort of cross-over in that jumping out of an aeroplane with a parachute could be considered exciting, thrilling and gut-wrenching. I just don't think that "gut-wrenching" would normally be used to mean thrilling or exciting (nor would nerve-wracking, for that matter).
     

    coiffe

    Senior Member
    USA
    American English
    I've never heard this definition before. Where does it come from?
    I think bibliolept is right about this, but not right about using behold in the original sentence. He says "behold" or "contemplate," but those are two different words. "Contemplate" is perfect in the original sentence. "Behold" is close but not quite right, to my ear ...

    Originally it was not even posited that this could be a film. I move closer to the possibility of using "behold" if it's a film, but I still reject it unless it claims the wonder of a Biblical spectacle. "Behold," after all, is used more often in the Bible than probably anywhere else in literature. Yes, if it's miraculous, we can behold it -- but even so, I would not use "behold" unless the spectacle were limited to one visual scene -- or several scenes at the most -- not a complicated, gradually unfolding story as one would experience in reading a novel.

    You contemplate a plot, you don't behold it. You behold a spectacle or a visually stunning miracle.

    All that said, I repeat what I noted from the very first: it's almost right, but not quite. Therefore I am sure some will jump in and say it's fine. Native speakers can certainly disagree. But for me, it's not fine. It's just passable, and only so if you're not paying attention or if you're not looking for better words. "Contemplate" is far better.
     

    JamesM

    Senior Member
    I almost said "Good point," it could have been a film. But then, think about it. "Behold" really implies a snapshot, a still -- not a complete movie. You watch a movie, you don't behold it. Maybe you could behold a short succession of scenes, like God turning the bush into the burning bush. But not a full-length film -- wouldn't you agree?

    For example, if you said:

    "Let's go to the mall and behold "No Country for Old Men," it would sound pretty perverse. At least it would to my ear.
    Well, "behold" in itself is an unusual word to use in any case. :) I would definitely say that "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon" was a wonder to behold, from start to finish. I could say the same of the beauty of Paris. I don't think "behold" necessarily has a sense of the snapshot to it.
     

    coiffe

    Senior Member
    USA
    American English
    Well, "behold" in itself is an unusual word to use in any case. :) I would definitely say that "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon" was a wonder to behold, from start to finish. I could say the same of the beauty of Paris. I don't think "behold" necessarily has a sense of the snapshot to it.
    I agree, and perhaps "snapshot" isn't quite right. But notice something. We can always say something is a "wonder to behold" -- it's an idiom -- but notice that "wonder" is singular. That is where my sense of the "snapshot" comes from -- even to behold the beauty of Paris is not exactly to contemplate an endlessly unfolding series of complicated scenes -- it's more like looking at an image, even if the image is slightly abstract.

    We would not say that "Crouching Tiger" is a great movie to behold, would we? It's a wonder to behold, a miraculous production to behold, but not a movie to behold.

    Well anyway that's my take on it. Let's not forget that the original sentence was probably about the plot of a book, not the stunning visuals of a movie. If it's about the stunning visuals of a film, then ... then behold away, and gut-wrenching subtle linguistic distinctions be damned. :)
     

    Cagey

    post mod (English Only / Latin)
    English - US
    This from a review of a computer game that the author refers to as "a visual novel". SOURCE.

    In the title sentence, "story" refers to the plot that develops as the game is played. The author discusses the artwork in the following paragraph. I do find "behold" odd in this context.

    There are several odd usages in the review. The author may lack experience.
     

    coiffe

    Senior Member
    USA
    American English
    This from a review of a computer game that the author refers to as "a visual novel". SOURCE.

    In the title sentence, "story" refers to the plot that develops as the game is played. The author discusses the artwork in the following paragraph. I do find "behold" odd in this context.

    There are several odd usages in the review. The author may lack experience.
    Aha, now we're in the world of the visual novel and computer graphics. Add to that the verbal stylistics of the reviewer, and "behold" is no longer only possible, it's viable.

    So Kurt, as you can see, context is everything. There seems to be no end of ways language can insinuate itself into an unimaginable variety of possible applications.
     
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