It is well known, or rather notorious...

raymondaliasapollyon

Senior Member
Chinese
Hi,

I am wondering the following sentence is correct:

It is well known, or rather notorious, that he never helps anyone without payment.

One coworker of mine crossed out ", or rather notorious,". I'm not sure if that was justified.

I'd appreciate your help.
 
  • Barque

    Senior Member
    Tamil
    I agree with your co-worker. A person or entity or place can be notorious, but a fact or item of information can't be.
     

    raymondaliasapollyon

    Senior Member
    Chinese
    I agree with your co-worker. A person or entity or place can be notorious, but a fact or item of information can't be.
    What about the following by Christopher Hitchens?

    It is notorious that the news of the Emancipation Proclamation was kept from the people of Texas and not celebrated until 'Juneteenth'.
     

    Barque

    Senior Member
    Tamil
    Well, I'm not always right;). I see that the WR dictionary (Collins Concise English) calls this a rare meaning of "notorious": RARE generally known or widely acknowledged.
     

    raymondaliasapollyon

    Senior Member
    Chinese
    Well, I'm not always right;). I see that the WR dictionary (Collins Concise English) calls this a rare meaning of "notorious": RARE generally known or widely acknowledged.
    Let's see what native speakers have to say about this.
    Btw, the Collins dictionary definition you've cited seems to have a neutral tone to it.
    But isn't "notorious" a negative word?
     

    Barque

    Senior Member
    Tamil
    Yes, it's usually used in a negative sense, which is probably why that meaning I cited is rare.
     

    e2efour

    Senior Member
    UK English
    The "notorious" grammarian, Fowler, wrote as follows in the 1908 edition of The King's English:

    "It is notorious that English writers seldom look into a grammar or composition book."

    I regard it as old-fashioned.
     

    raymondaliasapollyon

    Senior Member
    Chinese
    The "notorious" grammarian, Fowler, wrote as follows in the 1908 edition of The King's English:

    "It is notorious that English writers seldom look into a grammar or composition book."

    I regard it as old-fashioned.
    Do you think it's a good idea to cross it out in my original example?
    Would any rhetorical effect be lost if we removed "or rather notorious"?
     

    e2efour

    Senior Member
    UK English
    It is an example of saying one thing and then changing the meaning.
    There is nothing wrong with this, although one could take the view that the original should have read He is notorious for never helping anyone without payment (in other words, why not say what you mean straightaway?).
     

    raymondaliasapollyon

    Senior Member
    Chinese
    It is an example of saying one thing and then changing the meaning.
    There is nothing wrong with this, although one could take the view that the original should have read He is notorious for never helping anyone without payment (in other words, why not say what you mean straightaway?).
    Of course, brevity is important in writing. But sometimes it is not the only concern, and it can be overridden by other factors.
    I have seen "A, or rather B,..." in written material. Why was it used in the first place, if not for some special effect? It would be understandable to use it in speech, since people often make slips of the tongue. But why is it used in writing? I am curious what that effect might be.
     
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