knowing, inscrutable

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gimhee

Senior Member
Korean
Suddenly, those aren’t any children in the pictures, knowing, inscrutable. They’re those children, the Mann children, still alien but made that way more because of what we know than what we don’t.

who does "knowing" modify??

children? or just random people seeing the pictures?

I've never seen this kind of usage of "knowing" before...


and who does inscrutable modify?

children or pictures?

http://parenting.blogs.nytimes.com/...on=U.S.&action=Click&pgtype=Blogs&region=Body
 
  • JamesM

    Senior Member
    Knowing and inscrutable modify children. Don't forget that we have a built-in dictionary at the top of the page. :) Knowing as an adjective means "showing shrewd knowledge of secret or private information".
     

    gimhee

    Senior Member
    Korean
    so

    the sentence should be "those aren't any children in the pictures, knowing and inscrutable"?
     

    JamesM

    Senior Member
    In literary language you can "stack" adjectives. It is a literary device and perfectly acceptable in prose. It wouldn't be a good way to write an email. :)

    As a side note, "any" there means "any random / undefined / generic". They are specifically the children of the photographer, not just any children she happened to see.
     

    Parla

    Member Emeritus
    English - US
    No, Gimhee. The sentences are oddly punctuated and not easy to read*, even for a native speaker of English (no one edits blogs), but it's okay to use two adjectives separated only by a comma. It's a matter of style; I don't agree with the way this blogger did it, but it's not a grammar violation.

    *This would, I think, have been a little easier to understand: "Suddenly, those aren't [just] any children in the pictures—knowing, inscrutable. They're those children: the Mann children, . . . "



    Cross-posted (I was slow).
     

    gimhee

    Senior Member
    Korean
    thank you guys all~!!

    I'm just surprised that even articles from a blog at Newyorktimes can contain some awkward sentences..

    wordreference really helps me to better understand English. thank you ~
     
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