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What does of mean when it comes at the beginning of the sentence, for example:

Of pride of remembrance of the encounter with the bear on that hillside in the early spring.

  • Samerr, you really need to stop editing your question so that its content is completely different from what it was before. You have two or three answers to your original question. If you did not understand them, it is better to ask for clarification. Or if you want to ask about a different example, it is better to edit your question and include both the original example and the new example. – user20792 Nov 6 '15 at 17:20
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That's not a sentence, it's a sentence fragment. Here is the passage

"And every time I saw that paw, like the hand of a man, but with those long claws, dried and nailed through the palm to the door of the church, I received a pleasure." [Person A]

"Of pride?" [Person B]

"Of pride of remembrance of the encounter with the bear on that hillside in the early spring. But of the killing of a man, who is a man as we are, there is nothing good that remains." [Person A]

When Person B says "Of pride?", they are completing person A's statement

"I received a pleasure (of pride).

This is a method of asking

"Did you receive the pleasure of pride?"

Next, Person A completes his own statement in order to answer the question

"I received the pleasure of pride of remembrance of the encounter with the bear on that hillside in the early spring.

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This is not a “complete sentence”—it is merely a preposition phrase. It occurs in the middle of a dialogue, a context in which speakers very frequently shorten their utterances on the assumption that hearers will supply what is missing from what has gone before. Take a look at your passage in its original context:

   “On the door of the church of my village was nailed the paw of a bear that I killed in the spring, finding him on a hillside in the snow, overturning a log with this same paw.”
   “When was this?”
   “Six years ago. And every time I saw that paw, like the hand of a man, but with those long claws, dried and nailed through the palm to the door of the church, I received a pleasure.”
   “Of pride?”
   “Of pride of remembrance of the encounter with the bear on that hillside in the early spring.”
            —Hemingway, For Whom the Bell Tolls

And here’s the final sequence with the “missing” parts restored:

   “. . . I received a pleasure.”
   “Did you receive a pleasure of pride?”
   “I received a pleasure of pride of remembrance of the encounter . . .”

Linguists call this shortening conversational deletion; John Lawler has discussed it on ELU. Briefly, it’s a ‘rule’ of conversational English which says that a speaker can chop off anything at the beginning of an utterance which may be inferred from the context.

  • I don't think this is conversational deletion. That seems to be the phenomenon of omitting the first few words of a sentence like "The", "I", "You", of "There is", not entire phrases. I think the person who says "of pride" is attempting to complete the other persons sentence, essentially asking "Do you mean please of pride?". – Senjougahara Hitagi Nov 6 '15 at 22:25
  • @SenjougaharaHitagi The original description of CD was narrower, but it seems to me that it's exactly the same syntactic phenomenon, however much you lop off, or whatever text you conjecture to have been omitted, or whatever previous utterance prompted your utterance: you launch your utterance with the first element which cannot be recovered from the context and leave your hearer to infer what you have omitted. Still, if you'd rather call it something like "left-edge deletion in conformity with the informativeness principle", I'm OK with that. – StoneyB Nov 7 '15 at 1:18
  • But they work quite differently. With CD, you can rebuild the sentence with knowledge of grammar/convention. For example, "You going to work?", we automatically can fill in the "Are" part because that's how the pattern works normally in English. In the passage however, the speaker is continuing the sentence of the previous speaker. I don't feel like anything is being chopped off. And even if it was, you'd have to fill the gap from the content of the conversation, it's not just a grammar trick. – Senjougahara Hitagi Nov 7 '15 at 1:41
  • @SenjougaharaHitagi But in Going to work? you cannot derive either the subject or the inflected form of the verb from the given utterance alone; only the conversational context will tell you whether the omission is Are you, Is he, Were they -- or Did you see her. – StoneyB Nov 7 '15 at 1:57
  • "Going to work?" is almost certainly "Are you going to work?". I've never heard someone say "Going to work" to mean "Is he going to work?". I guess I'm saying that CD to me feels like English's version of the way Japanese and Korean work. Recovering the subject might be dependent on the context of the conversation, but not on the exact content. Furthermore, CD sentences can stand on their own. You could begin a conversation with them. The same is not possible with the sentence continuing syntax. – Senjougahara Hitagi Nov 7 '15 at 2:07
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Of means the same thing at the beginning of a sentence as it does elsewhere in a sentence. If I say:

Of the ways and words of men I refuse to speak.

It means the same as

I refuse to speak of the ways and words of men.

Of can also end a sentence:

The ways and words of men I refuse to speak of.

However, the last sentence is typically going to be understood as a sentence fragment unless read in context.

The other answers here cover the extract from Hemingway. Or, one could say

Of the extract from Hemingway, the other answers cover.

But that is not normal word order.

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