Your father is very ill and not expected

AlexanderIII

Senior Member
Russian
Dear all,
this is from the story by Adam Johnson Hurricanes Anonymous.


The doctor's text message is this: "Your father is very ill and not expected."

None's dad has had cancer before, so the diagnosis isn't exactly news. There's something right about it, though. A man spends his life "not expected"—isn't that how it should end
?
I don't understand the meaning of not expected here. It would be clear if it were not expected to get well or A man spends his life unexpectedly but A man spends his life "not expected" does not make sense to me. Could you help out please?
 
  • Barque

    Senior Member
    Tamil
    It's probably short for "not expected to recover/last much longer" or something similar.

    "Not expected" is a common enough term in this context that the doctor probably though he'd be understood even if he didn't elaborate on what was not expected.
     

    entangledbank

    Senior Member
    English - South-East England
    But it doesn't mean that, and that seems to be the point. The usual message would be 'not expected to live (long)', and the text message has truncated that to something that either has no meaning or has a different meaning, but it's not clear to me what that is. 'Not expected' suggests dropping in unexpectedly, or perhaps it is expected that the person will not show up (to a party or something): and something like this is being applied as a metaphor to life.
     

    AlexanderIII

    Senior Member
    Russian
    It's probably short for "not expected to recover/last much longer" or something similar.

    "Not expected" is a common enough term in this context that the doctor probably thought he'd be understood even if he didn't elaborate on what was not expected.
    But then what to make out of A man spends his life "not expected". Could you please paraphrase the sentence.
     

    Barque

    Senior Member
    Tamil
    I agree with EB that it's being applied as a sort of metaphor to life.

    I think it means that since you can't predict what will happen in life, men spend their lives without being able to expect with any certainty that they will be able to live to a certain age. If you watch what you eat, exercise regularly and take care of your health, you increase the likelihood of living a long life, but that doesn't mean you can't die as a result of an accident while still young.
     

    Barque

    Senior Member
    Tamil
    I thought it was deliberately truncated, because the doctor thought it was clear enough as it was, and the next paragraph commented on how the truncated version was appropriate. But yes, I suppose it could have been accidental too.
     

    Loob

    Senior Member
    English UK
    Reply to post 6

    Sorry, Barque, I was deleting my previous post as you were replying. I'm pretty sure the truncation of the text message was accidental. The son, with a sort of dark humour, is giving the text some 'deep meaning' which the doctor didn't intend.
     

    Barque

    Senior Member
    Tamil
    I see. Yes, you're probably right - I suppose that's why he said "There's something right about it, though" (though it was cut short).
     

    PureLand

    Senior Member
    Chinese
    But it doesn't mean that, and that seems to be the point. The usual message would be 'not expected to live (long)', and the text message has truncated that to something that either has no meaning or has a different meaning, but it's not clear to me what that is. 'Not expected' suggests dropping in unexpectedly, or perhaps it is expected that the person will not show up (to a party or something): and something like this is being applied as a metaphor to life.
    Can I say "Your very ill father is not expected to live long"? I am not sure about the "very ill" part. Thank you :)
     
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