if not outright fear

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zwxsnake

Senior Member
Chinese
Hi,

“Katherine.”
The voice on the line was low thunder, rumbling earth. Not loud, but forceful, the kind of voice that demanded respect, if not outright fear, the kind of voice Kate had been practicing for years, but it still sent an involuntary shiver through her.
“Hello, Father,” Kate said, careful to keep her own voice steady.


Source: This Savage Song by Victoria Schwab
Context: Kate is talking to her father on the phone.

Does "if not outright fear" here mean: Even if his voice is not meant to make you feel outright fear, it demands respect ?

Thank you!
 
  • Yes.

    I might add to your paraphrase, "Even if his voice is not meant to make you feel outright fear, [at the very minimum] it[at least] demands respect."

    Those understood nuances of setting up the extremes of both the maximum (fear) and the minimum (respect) are at the very heart of the "x, if not y,..." construction.

    I hope that makes sense.:)
     
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