scarce ever heard

chobalsim

Banned
India-Hindi
I scarce ever heard or saw the introductory words, "Without vanity I may say," &c., but some vain thing immediately followed.

I'm a little bit confused with the sentence. What the writer means is that most books starts with "without vanity I may say" but they soon show the vain thing? I think that makes sense. But the sentence itself seems to me quite the opposite. :(
 
  • heidita

    Banned
    Germany (German, English, Spanish)
    chobalsim said:
    I scarce ever heard or saw the introductory words, "Without vanity I may say," &c., but some vain thing immediately followed.

    I'm a little bit confused with the sentence. What the writer means is that most books starts with "without vanity I may say" but they soon show the vain thing? I think that makes sense. But the sentence itself seems to me quite the opposite. :(

    It should be

    I scarcely ever heard .....

    The "but" here is used like ...without some vain thing immediately following.
     

    panjandrum

    Lapsed Moderator
    English-Ireland (top end)
    It would have been helpful to mention that your sentence:
    “I scarce ever heard or saw the introductory words, "Without vanity I may say," etc., but some vain thing immediately followed.”
    ... is quoting Benjamin Franklin. This is nicely in keeping with the style of 200 years ago. Although I don't quite remember it, I recognise the style:)

    Interpreting and simplifying slightly ...
    I have not often heard or seen X without Y following.

    Changing from negative to postive ...
    Every time I have heard or seen X, Y has followed.

    I don't think he was talking specifically about books. I have no doubt he was talking about statements being made by his contemporaries.
     

    chobalsim

    Banned
    India-Hindi
    Yes, that's right. My sentence was quoted from Franklin. :)

    What made me confused was that "Without vanity I may say," &c., but some vain thing immediately followed. didn't (and somewhat doesn't) seem to be one bundle. If, like heidita said, "but" was substitued by "without" it was easier for me, although "without" is grammatically incorrect in this case. (I'm not sure whether I'm making myself understood now. :( )

    Anyway, the above sentence is best one to express what the author means?
     

    Kelly B

    Senior Member
    USA English
    I'm not sure I followed your last question, so I'll use that extra without even if it isn't pretty:
    I've hardly ever heard anyone start by saying "without vanity I may say..." without then saying something vain.

    It's the same thing Panjandrum and heidita said, but I thought I'd just write it out.
     
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