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  1. #1
    szaroczek is offline Junior Member
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    Default specific meaning of "but" word

    Hi, I'm new here. English is my foreign language so I sometimes might be somewhat clumsy in my expressions, but I hope experts will somehow do...

    I'm currently reading Washington Irving's "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow". At some point narrator is describing some bigmouths bragging about themselves and their "marvelous" deeds on battle fields. Then such a sentence comes about:

    "There were several more who had been equally great in the field, not one of whom but was persuaded that he had a considerable hand in bringing the war to a happy termination."

    That "but" destroys my all understanding of it. I'd appreciate if someone could express this sentence in other words which would in some other, simpler way convey exactly the same meaning and sense. Or maybe there is just one simple single English-word equivalent for this wretched "but"-word which would do the job...

    Thank you in advance

  2. #2
    billmcd is offline Key Member
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    Default Re: specific meaning of "but" word

    Quote Originally Posted by szaroczek View Post
    Hi, I'm new here. English is my foreign language so I sometimes might be somewhat clumsy in my expressions, but I hope experts will somehow do...

    I'm currently reading Washington Irving's "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow". At some point narrator is describing some bigmouths bragging about themselves and their "marvelous" deeds on battle fields. Then such a sentence comes about:

    "There were several more who had been equally great in the field, not one of whom but was persuaded that he had a considerable hand in bringing the war to a happy termination."

    That "but" destroys my all understanding of it. I'd appreciate if someone could express this sentence in other words which would in some other, simpler way convey exactly the same meaning and sense. Or maybe there is just one simple single English-word equivalent for this wretched "but"-word which would do the job...

    Thank you in advance
    Seldom/never used as such in modern English. Could be replaced with "that" or simply omitted.

  3. #3
    konungursvia's Avatar
    konungursvia is offline Key Member
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    Default Re: specific meaning of "but" word

    I think the opposite may be true. It means "not" in this case and modifies "was" -- not one of whom was NOT persuaded....." i.e. All of them thought they were important in ending the war.

  4. #4
    szaroczek is offline Junior Member
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    Default Re: specific meaning of "but" word

    Got it! Now makes clear sense to me! Thank you very much indeed.

  5. #5
    Rover_KE is offline Moderator
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    Default Re: specific meaning of "but" word

    Written in 1820, "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow" is among the earliest examples of American fiction still read today. (Wikipedia)

    Language changes considerably over nearly 200 years, szaroczek.

    Make sure you read plenty of modern English, too.

    Rover

  6. #6
    billmcd is offline Key Member
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    Default Re: specific meaning of "but" word

    Quote Originally Posted by konungursvia View Post
    I think the opposite may be true. It means "not" in this case and modifies "was" -- not one of whom was NOT persuaded....." i.e. All of them thought they were important in ending the war.
    You are correct, my error.

  7. #7
    szaroczek is offline Junior Member
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    Default Re: specific meaning of "but" word

    Quote Originally Posted by Rover_KE View Post
    Written in 1820, "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow" is among the earliest examples of American fiction still read today. (Wikipedia)

    Language changes considerably over nearly 200 years, szaroczek.

    Make sure you read plenty of modern English, too.

    Rover
    I will try! Thank you.

  8. #8
    TheParser is offline VIP Member
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    Default Re: specific meaning of "but" word

    [QUOTE=szaroczek;837029]
    NOT A TEACHER

    (1) Thank you, Szaroczek, for asking that question. It really helped many of us ordinary native speakers to better understand older English.

    (2) Of course, especial thanks to Konungursvia for giving us the answer.

    (3) I found this beautiful sentence written by someone whose last name was Lowell.

    It was published in the year 1871:

    "As for the birds, I do not believe there is one of them but does more good

    than harm."

    (a) This "but" is classified as a conjunction meaning "who ... not" or "that ...not."

    CREDIT for the quotation and definition goes to:

    Funk & Wagnalls New Standard Dictionary of the English Language (1952)

  9. #9
    szaroczek is offline Junior Member
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    Default Re: specific meaning of "but" word

    What could be better than when "everybody wins"!

  10. #10
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    5jj is offline VIP Member
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    Default Re: specific meaning of "but" word

    Quote Originally Posted by TheParser View Post
    Of course, especial thanks to Konungursvia for giving us the answer.
    I'd use 'special thanks ...' there.

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