RobertB saidI believe there are only 2 adjectives in the whole language that are formally capable of taking a direct object:
It appears that’s a matter of some considerable debate. It certainly isn’t clear-cut.
Some take that use of worth to be prepositional, but that stance is not without its problems.
Then there are the raft of adjective phrases of measure with complements before and after, such as you mention, long and short. Most of the complements are numeric, but not always.
My brother is six feet tall.
My mother is 60 years old.
This plywood is shy an inch. (cf. short. And the infrequently used opposite, proud, as in “Cut the board proud an eighth.” proud
RobertB saidSimilarly, used as same as ‘not knowing,’ are these also similarly odd?Ignorant of which road to takeIgnorant of what time it isCompare these that should be clearly good:Ignorant of GeographyAn ignorant population
I believe “ignorant of” will always mean “not knowing.” “Not knowing” may be substituted for “ignorant of” in every example you gave.
I would be very surprised by ‘I am ignorant of what time it is’ —would be sure giveaway of foreigner.
It would not be the first time someone has thought my Texas way of speaking sounded like a foreigner but I don’t think that phrase is unique to my area. I have used it on occasion. It is more common to say, “I don’t know what time it is,” but sometimes, just to change things up, I will use “ignorant of” to describe various things. I may use it more often than I think because I frequently find myself ignorant.
Dick said: I believe “ignorant of” will always mean “not knowing.”
Tromboniator said: Ignorance is ignorance, whether it’s particle physics or which way the cow went.
Totally agree. There is not necessarily a negative connotation to “ignorance” even though it’s often used in that way. Even though I got burned on the etymology of “algebra” I return to my favorite online etymology source: http://etymonline.com/?term=ignorant
So Peter … you never answered my question about your trombone solo. How’d that go?
Ignorance is ignorance, whether it’s particle physics or which way the cow went.
Both of those sometimes happen to me in the same day. Although my musings about Cooper-paired neutrons in blackholes being a path to reconcile gravity with the Standard Model have showed more ignorance than where the cows are (they have not gotten out recently).
Ignorant of Geography
Your “ignorant of” + noun examples sound to me more natural than your “ignorant of” + relative adjective examples.
ignorant of what I should do
Your example from the book is “ignorant of” + nominal relative. That sounds fine to me.
These sound off to me:
Ignorant of which road to take
Ignorant of what time it is
For example, if I change your relative adjectives examples to ones with nouns or nominal relatives, they work for me:
Ignorant of what lay ahead on the road, he whistled merrily.
Ignorant of the road ahead, I drove fast.
Ignorant of the time, I kept typing, completely missing the opening pitch.
Nominal relatives sound fine to me:
how · what · when · where · who · why
… ignorant of how to resolve the issue …
… ignorant of what to prepare …
… ignorant of when it was due …
… ignorant of where it was to be sent …
… ignorant of who has made the request …
… ignorant of why the cat was purring …
Ignorant of which road to take
Ignorant of what time it is
I am somewhat reluctant to question you, Glenn, because I find that you are nearly always right and can explain things very clearly. This, however, is not clear to me. You gave a good alternative to “Ignorant of what time it is,” but you did not give an example of what I should say if I am really ignorant of which road to take. The only thing I can come up with is using a different word from ignorant which will not change the structure of the sentence but just replace ignorant with a synonym. Or you can completely reword the sentence which may make it sound better. And mentioning how it sounds makes me wonder if there is actually a rule about this or are you only going by how it sounds? (not to minimize that) But it doesn’t really sound bad to me.
I am somewhat reluctant to question you, Glenn, … . … And mentioning how it sounds makes me wonder if there is actually a rule about this or are you only going by how it sounds? (not to minimize that) But it doesn’t really sound bad to me.
Question away. Most research in descriptive linguistics is simply a gathering of what people judge as good, bad, and questionable without the need for reasons. The reasons are constructed post hoc to explain or understand (describe) the intuitive judgments, but not to codify them into grammatical rules. The same is true of my comments above. First, I reacted intuitively, then I tried to figure out why some sounded better than others to me.
It is very, very common that different people judge differently. This is what makes language a joy.
As to ” … ignorant of which road to take …” I would understand what you mean, of course, but I would not use it in that construction. I would say ” … unsure of which … ” or ” … uncertain of which … ” or “not knowing which … ” or ” … ignorant of the right road to take … “
It isn’t uncommon for synonyms to be imperfectly matched. It is not always true that one can always be substituted for the other in precisely the same constructions, even given the same semantic use. For example, a thesaurus will show many synonyms for “to mourn” including:
ache, agonize, anguish, be brokenhearted, be sad, bemoan, bewail, bleed, blubber, carry on, complain, cry, deplore, fret, grieve, hurt, keen, lament, languish, long for, miss, moan, pine, regret, repine, rue, sigh, sob, sorrow, suffer, take it hard, wail, wear black, weep, wring hands, yearn.
Clearly some of these are synonyms only in some narrow context. Semantic nuance aside, not all of these words can function in the same constructions as “to mourn.” Take these two constructions using mourn as a verb:
I mourned her father’s death.
I mourned for her loss.
But, while I can use these synonyms expressing pain and sorrow over a death, I can’t use them necessarily in precisely the same construction as “to mourn.”
“I ached / mourned over her father’s death.” but not *”I ached her father’s death.”
“I anguished / mourned over her loss.” but not *”I anguished for her loss.”
“I sorrowed / mourned over her father’s death.” but not *”I sorrowed her father’s death.”
Maybe some of the above are OK for you. But even though words are more or less synonymous within a context, sometimes they cannot always function in all of the same constructions.
So, for me, to be ignorant of does not always function in the same constructions as its synonyms to be unsure of, to be uncertain of, not to know. I am not surprised that the same intuition might not hold for everyone. I would be surprised if there were no variation.
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