He is hungry for he knows not what.

8769

Senior Member
Japanese and Japan
What does the red part mean?

Mr. Malick wrote it in 1993 while he was preparing ''The Thin Red Line.'' There is a long middle section in the play in which the hero stumbles upon a land of spirits and demons. There, he meets a character called the Mind, who is hungry for he knows not what.
(from an article of New York Times)

Does this mean something like:
hungry for what he doesn't exactly know about?

Is this a normal expression you see in everyday life?
 
  • Copyright

    Senior Member
    American English
    He is hungry but he doesn't know what he is hungry for. He feels the sensation of hunger, but he doesn't know what will satisfy it.
     

    ribran

    Senior Member
    English - American
    What does the red part mean?

    Mr. Malick wrote it in 1993 while he was preparing ''The Thin Red Line.'' There is a long middle section in the play in which the hero stumbles upon a land of spirits and demons. There, he meets a character called the Mind, who is hungry for he knows not what.
    (from an article of New York Times)

    Does this mean something like:
    hungry for what he doesn't exactly know about?

    Is this a normal expression you see in everyday life?
    He is hungry. For what? He does not know.

    I would be surprised to hear a modern speaker say something like this.
     

    Sharifa345

    Senior Member
    USA
    US English, DR Spanish
    What does the red part mean?

    Mr. Malick wrote it in 1993 while he was preparing ''The Thin Red Line.'' There is a long middle section in the play in which the hero stumbles upon a land of spirits and demons. There, he meets a character called the Mind, who is hungry for he knows not what.
    (from an article of New York Times)

    Does this mean something like:
    hungry for what he doesn't exactly know about? :tick:

    Is this a normal expression you see in everyday life?
    "Hungry for something" is not very common, but not uncommon either. But the inversion of the subject and verb ("knows not what") is not common in speech, it is very formal and almost poetic.
     

    natkretep

    Moderato con anima (English Only)
    English (Singapore/UK), basic Chinese
    Is this a normal expression you see in everyday life?
    The expression is not unusual, although I would say it feels a little literary. It employs an older way of forming a negative in English by appending not after the verb.

    Sometimes, it might be punctuated differently:

    ... he is ... now hankering for he-knows-not-what (R T Manners, Girl Child Saturday, Book 3)
     

    Languagethinkerlover

    Senior Member
    English-British and U.S.
    What does the red part mean?

    Mr. Malick wrote it in 1993 while he was preparing ''The Thin Red Line.'' There is a long middle section in the play in which the hero stumbles upon a land of spirits and demons. There, he meets a character called the Mind, who is hungry for he knows not what.
    (from an article of New York Times)

    Does this mean something like:
    hungry for what he doesn't exactly know about?

    Is this a normal expression you see in everyday life?
    'Hungry for' isn't common/uncommon to me (at least in the way it was used).

    The way the highlighted sentence was written isn't common. Sometimes people right things in certain ways for literary purposes (many times to add sophistication/to play with words). It's nice to see something different every now and then.

    You could also say, "The Mind has such a thirst for knowledge/called the Mind, who is thirsty for he knows not what."

    If you're talking about food, I would say, "Man...I feel for some wings and beer." I guess you can say, "I'm hungry for..." but I don't hear this often.

    Note: I see that since I last posted, others have said similar things and some of what I wrote is in reference to what others have written.
     
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    Copyright

    Senior Member
    American English
    If you're talking about food, I would say, "Man...I feel for some wings and beer." I guess you can say, "I'm hungry for..." but I don't hear this often.
    I feel for some wings ...? :eek: Now that I've never heard in my life. :D

    So let's check Google:
    "I'm hungry for some": about 720,000 results
    "I feel for some": about 462 results
    "I'm hungry for some wings": about 30 results
    "I'm hungry for wings": about 73 results
    "I feel for some wings": 0 results

    (And, yes, I clicked through to the very last page in each search before copying the results.)
     

    natkretep

    Moderato con anima (English Only)
    English (Singapore/UK), basic Chinese
    I feel for some wings ...? :eek: Now that I've never heard in my life. :D
    I would say, 'I feel like some pizza'. (Sorry, I had to change wings - not a favourite item.)

    I mean to say "hungry for" is not common when not talking about food, as in this context.
    I don't think it is uncommon. I often hear about new immigrants being very 'hungry' - and the reference is to their willingness to work hard.
     
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    Sharifa345

    Senior Member
    USA
    US English, DR Spanish
    I don't think it is uncommon. I often hear about new immigrants being very 'hungry' - and the reference is to their willingness to work hard.
    "Hungry for something" is not very common, but not uncommon either. But the inversion of the subject and verb ("knows not what") is not common in speech, it is very formal and almost poetic.
    I also do not think it is uncommon..
     

    Copyright

    Senior Member
    American English
    I mean to say "hungry for" is not common when not talking about food, as in this context.
    Searching for "I'm hungry for" on Google, I found these six results in the 10 entries on the first page:
    I'm Hungry For Greatness.
    I'm hungry for meaty roles.
    I'm hungry for something.
    I'm Hungry for Feedback!
    I'm hungry for love.
    I'm hungry for you.
     

    Languagethinkerlover

    Senior Member
    English-British and U.S.
    I feel for some wings ...? :eek: Now that I've never heard in my life. :D

    So let's check Google:
    "I'm hungry for some": about 720,000 results
    "I feel for some": about 462 results
    "I'm hungry for some wings": about 30 results
    "I'm hungry for wings": about 73 results
    "I feel for some wings": 0 results

    (And, yes, I clicked through to the very last page in each search before copying the results.)
    I'm not sure if using google is a good way to find information on word usage.

    We all may not live in the same city/state/province/country, etc., so keep in mind that word usage varies depending on where you live.

    'Hungry for' is just something I do not hear very often. You might hear it often. I do not.

    Sometimes I use the word 'frowsy' and people have no clue as to what it means. Its usage is not found everywhere and/or it is not commonly heard in certain regions.
     
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