— How’s the body?
— Fine. How are you?
— Just keeping alive, M’Coy said.
His eyes on the black tie and clothes he asked with low respect:
— Is there any... no trouble I hope? I see you’re...
— O, no, Mr Bloom said. Poor Dignam, you know. The funeral is today.

Which is from Ulysses.

Does it mean asked in a low voice and with respect? is this a weird usage ? ...

  • 2
    It's anybody's guess what it means, unless there are some Joyce scholars here. Ulysses is mostly famous for having weird English usage. Only people with a very strong interest in the use of English read that book. Even highly literate people don't understand it, even with help from scholars. It's probably the last book I would recommend learning English from, but if it motivates you to read, go for it! Just don't expect that everything in there is considered correct form.
    – gotube
    Sep 12, 2022 at 14:44
  • @gotube yes, I think the Style of Stream of Consciousness gives the lawful reason to not write in a grammatical way. Sep 13, 2022 at 10:59

1 Answer 1


The phrase could have two meanings, depending on the usage of the word low:

If using the word low as a measure (as in "low standards"), asking with low respect would mean asking the question without any special regard towards the person.

If using the word low as in sound ("low volume"), it could mean asking the question quietly with respect/regard for the person.

Based on the context given, it's most likely the second. However, it could mean either of the two.

  • thank you, maybe Joyce expressed 2 meanings in the same time, I think he likes wordplaying. Sep 13, 2022 at 10:55
  • Joyce's writing is very enigmatic. I wouldn't doubt that he meant both at once.
    – metror
    Sep 13, 2022 at 12:03

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