On the longest day he ever lived

  • lingobingo

    Senior Member
    English - England
    I have never before come across the expression "On the longest day he ever lived". It's presumably an invented expression, meaning (as you say) at no point in his life – even on the longest day of his life – etc.

    A more familiar way of saying it might be: Never in a million years would anyone call Heidegger a philosopher of science.
     

    Loob

    Senior Member
    English UK
    I agree with lingobingo. It looks like a pretty strange sentence to me.
     

    Trochfa

    Senior Member
    UK
    English - England
    On the longest day he ever lived
    :confused:

    You are right, and I agree with Lingobingo and Loob. The part quoted above is very strange. Each day is always 24 hours. The day he is born, or dies, could be less than 24 hours, but not the rest of them throughout his life. The phrase does not work.

    Is it a translated phrase which doesn't convert properly into English? We know what it is trying to say, but unfortunately it just isn't quite saying it! :D

    We talk figurately about "the longest day he/she/I ever lived", to mean a day that seemed to go on for ever because it was so tortuous or tiresome. But I've never seen a variation of it used in the way shown in the OP.
     

    kentix

    Senior Member
    English - U.S.
    "Never in a million years" is definitely a standard way to say that and I've never heard the phrase in the OP. But here's what I think it means:

    On the longest day he ever lived, when he had the most time to do every activity he possibly could, none of those activities could reasonably be considered evidence of him speaking philosophically about science.

    My thought, too, was to wonder if it's a direct translation of an idiom in another language. I'm not particularly bothered by "the longest day" part. It's figurative anyway and some days do seem longer than others.
     

    Trochfa

    Senior Member
    UK
    English - England
    Thanks kentix. :thumbsup:

    Therefore, I suppose it should really be something such as: "On the longest day he ever worked, Heidegger could never be called a philosopher of science."
     

    kentix

    Senior Member
    English - U.S.
    I really hope someone knows the answer to whether it's a direct translation. I'm genuinely curious. If true, knowing the language would be interesting.
     

    changchengwai

    New Member
    Chinese
    Thanks ever so much to everyone! Your answers are much appreciated.

    I feel it's somewhat unusual to have "on the longest day" and "never" in one sentence without "even". I am tempted to think that the sentence would sound better like this:

    "Heidegger could never be called a philosopher of science, not even on the longest day he ever lived." (Should "not" be here?)

    Or

    "Heidegger could never be called a philosopher of science - even on the longest day he ever lived."
     

    Loob

    Senior Member
    English UK
    It's "on the longest day he ever lived" which is strange, changchenwai.
     

    Trochfa

    Senior Member
    UK
    English - England
    I've been thinking (always a dangerous thing, for me anyway :)) about this over night. The "never/even in a million years...." types of phrases are the ones which come immediately to mind.

    But part of my problem with the phrase in the OP is that it seems to focus upon the duration of Heidegger's day, not the quality of his work.

    I think "Even on his best day, Heidegger could never be called a philosopher of science." is quite idiomatic. (This says that even his best work wasn't good enough.)

    Richardson's work was published in 1968, so perhaps the original construction was popular/idiomatic at that time, or perhaps in his part of the US? (He was born in Brooklyn, N.Y.)
     

    PaulQ

    Banned
    UK
    English - England
    I think this sentence basically says that Heidegger could not be called a philosopher of science at any point of his life.

    Am I right?
    No, not really. "On the longest day he ever lived," is an emphatic adverbial phrase that resembles "very," which has no meaning on its own. It can be omitted - it is not necessary to the sense or meaning to include it. It is merely an intensifying "idiom" and, because it is non-standard, it simply looks strange.
     
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