happy while languishing in solitary confinement

  • Copyright

    Senior Member
    American English
    It's actually "work" and "languish" that are the parallels – "happy" is outside that. It's like saying someone could be happy riding a merry-go-round or picking up trash.

    And for parallelism, I would prefer: "... they can be happy even as they work on an assembly line or languish in solitary confinement."
     

    SuprunP

    Senior Member
    Ukrainian & Russian
    Thank you Copyright!

    be happy riding a merry-go-round or picking up trash
    Since 'to ride' and 'to pick up' seem to be neutral (simply descriptive in nature; not emotionally coloured), does 'to languish in solitary confinement' simply mean 'to spend time in solitary confinement'?

    Thanks.
     

    velisarius

    Senior Member
    British English (Sussex)
    I can think of better ways of spending my time but for some people who don't mind long periods of inactivity, being locked away in prison might be an opportunity to rest and plan one's next burglary/fraud/murder in relative peace and quiet.

    languish: to undergo neglect or experience prolonged inactivity; suffer hardship and distress: to languish in prison for ten years.
     

    Thomas Tompion

    Senior Member
    English - England
    I can think of better ways of spending my time but for some people who don't mind long periods of inactivity, being locked away in prison might be an opportunity to rest and plan one's next burglary/fraud/murder in relative peace and quiet.
    Or to read St Augustine. I think books are allowed to some people who are languishing.
     

    SuprunP

    Senior Member
    Ukrainian & Russian
    Thank you everyone!

    languish: to undergo neglect or experience prolonged inactivity; suffer hardship and distress: to languish in prison for ten years.
    'To experience prolonged inactivity' and 'to suffer hardship and distress' seem to be bounded up together here, why would we separate them if the lexicographers didn't feel the need to (Random House Webster's Unabridged Dictionary) (on the contrary, one might argue, they bounded them up together for a reason, otherwise, they would have carefully left out 'hardship and distress' and probably not mentioned 'prison', however pleasurable a place it might be for some individuals)?

    I don't find any of the following neutral or simply indicating long periods of inactivity, do you?


    pine with longing

    languish for years in prison
    (Webster's Third New International Dictionary of the English Language, Unabridged)

    1.b. To live under conditions which lower the vitality or depress the spirits.
    3. To droop in spirits; to pine with love, grief, or the like.
    4.a. quasi-trans. (usually with out): To pass (a period of time) in languishing.
    1734 tr. Rollin's Anc. Hist. xvi. ii. §8. VII. 302 Those who chose rather to destroy one another, than languish out their lives in that miserable manner.
    (OED)

    Thanks.
     

    Copyright

    Senior Member
    American English
    Back to the original, the point is that some people can be happy even if they're working on an assembly line (routine, dull, boring) or lying around a prison cell (routine, dull, boring).

    It's not what you're going through but how you view it that makes the difference.
     

    velisarius

    Senior Member
    British English (Sussex)
    I can imagine a continuum of languishing: in the strong sense it would involve drooping and pining in hardship and distress - in the weaker sense it might just mean "experience prolonged inactivity (and boredom)".
     

    Copyright

    Senior Member
    American English
    Of course, but have I understood you correctly that one can say (as it might be the case here) 'I am suffering, but I am happy'?
    Yes. If the suffering isn't torture, then you can be happy. (If I ever went to jail, I'd want solitary confinement, and I don't consider assembly-line work to be suffering.)
     
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