5

While reading a book - "The Glass Palace" - I came across a sentence -

He could think of nothing else to say, or as much worth saying.

I understood the meaning of this sentence. And I believe there is an ellipsis at play there. So the sentence would look like this -

He could think of nothing else to say, or (nothing) as much worth saying.

So the Noun Phrase (NP) is - (nothing) as much (that is) worth saying.

Generally we use nothing much, but what that as is doing in between nothing and much?

Does as much at times depending on context mean much?

(as much has other meaning as well, I'm not talking about that. In the sentence below as much mean not the way it did.

Now the problem is solved, and money doesn't matter as much.

I know this is different than the first sentence I quoted here.)

  • He could think of nothing else to say, or as much worth saying would be highly unidiomatic even if it were grammatically acceptable. To use those words that way, you're going to need a semi-colon and even then it will be difficult. They don't have quite the same meaning but you might try … nothing else so much… or … nothing else much… or just …nothing else… – Robbie Goodwin Sep 19 '17 at 16:39
1

If you add 'but her name' then the sentence is easier to understand.

In the original, there is no comma, and the sentence continues further.

The character Rajkumar is talking to someone, a little girl I think, called Dolly, giving her a jewelled box.

She appears to be poor or a beggar, he gives her the valuable thing, then he is repeatedly saying her name 'Dolly, Dolly, Dolly!'

Then it says 'he could think of nothing else to say worth saying'

So it means, he is saying her value, in her name. He shouts it louder and louder 'until a tiny smile creeps on her face'.

So he states her name, as a way of connecting her to her own value.

And in that moment, as he does that, it says: 'he could think of nothing else worth saying'

It's as if he has made a deep connection with the girl, in just that moment - they are in a kind of time bubble, as he recognises who she is - and endeavours to wake her up to that, by saying her name.

So her name becomes precious in that moment - her name becomes 'the only thing' and saying anything other than just her name, would not have the same effect.

If you add 'but her name' then the sentence is easier to understand:

'He could think of nothing else to say or as much worth saying - but her name.' Meaning 'but only' her name. Only that will do.

There is an inferred 'but her name' in the original - although it doesn't say that, that is what it means.

The full sentence goes:

  • 'He could think of nothing else to say or as much worth saying, so he said the name again, louder and louder, until he was shouting. "Dolly. Dolly."

And I suggest it could be more easily understood if you think of it as inferring 'but her name' like this:

  • 'He could think of nothing else to say or as much worth saying but her name, so he said the name again, louder and louder, until he was shouting. "Dolly. Dolly."

This is by Amitav Ghosh by the way, so it is not archaic, but without the 'but...' and without the context, it certainly sounds archaic!

So, coming back to your question of how to use the phrase, I think if you add an 'as..., but... or except...' on the end, then you will be able to. For example:

  • he could think of nothing else to say worth saying except - sorry
  • he could think of nothing else to say worth saying but 'I love you'
  • he could think of nothing else to say worth saying as she left

https://www.amazon.com/Glass-Palace-Novel-Amitav-Ghosh/dp/0375758771

0

He could think of nothing else to say, or as much worth saying.

It is perhaps a bit archaic. To understand the effect of the "as" we could drop the "much" and even the "else to say" and recast the "nothing" ->

He could think of nothing as worth saying.

->

None of his possible responses could be identified/labelled as worth saying.

The meaning of "as" here has to do with identifying or labelling one concept as another. Consider also

He recognized this as [being] a good idea.

The function of "as" is to label the first concept as belong to the class of the second concept.

He spoke as fast as he had ever done in his life.

Here his "speaking" was a member of the class of as fast as ever. Also the "fast" was a member of the class of his fastest ever (for doing speaking).

Now the problem is solved, and money doesn't matter as much.

When he became aware of how quickly he was talking, he didn't speak as fast.

In these examples the use of "as" means its still matters but is not as much as it used to matter, or is not at fast as it used to be. The "as it used to" bit is elided effectively. Money still may matter a lot, and he still may be speaking too fast. Dropping the "as" means it explicitly makes the point that this is no longer the case.

  • Semantically I don't think "He could think of nothing as much worth saying" and "He could think of nothing as worth saying" are equivalent. – Man_From_India Apr 24 '17 at 9:10
0

If it is a novel or story one has to give a long rope to the author. Even if what is written is grammatically wrong, as long as it has helped to convey what the author wanted, it should be accepted. I myself would have put the sentence

He could not think of anything else to say, worth saying.

Or

He could not think of anything else worth saying.

When you are writing a novel or poem or anything, it is your creative capability which is important than your knowledge of grammar. Not that one should butcher the grammar that what is written does not make any sense.

0

Jelila explains this nicely. That is a beautiful, intense sentence. There is an implicit reference to something that must be mentioned in another sentence or phrase. It's hard to parse by looking at the words one at a time, but the "much" is an intensifier of "worth saying". "else" modifies "nothing" and together they make up an object phrase, that shouldn't be split. The substitution you're looking for is

"He could think of nothing_else to say, nor nothing_else as important to say..."

It's lovely, thank you for this. I need to read this book.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.