Is this 'nor' a short form of 'nor knowing'?

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A breeze ruffled the neat hedges of Privet Drive, which lay silent and tidy under the inky sky, the very last place you would expect astonishing things to happen. Harry Potter rolled over inside his blankets without waking up. One small hand closed on the letter beside him and he slept on, not knowing he was special, not knowing he was famous, not knowing he would be woken in a few hours' time by Mrs. Dursley's scream as she opened the front door to put out the milk bottles, nor that he would spend the next few weeks being prodded and pinched by his cousin Dudley... He couldn't know that at this very moment, people meeting in secret all over the country were holding up their glasses and saying in hushed voices: "To Harry Potter -- the boy who lived!"
(Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone)

Is nor the short form of "nor knowing"?

Listenever

Posted 2013-03-07T00:01:16.633

Reputation: 25 811

Answers

5

It's a strange way of asking the question. The last part of the sentence could have been written as:

not knowing he was special, that he was famous, that he would be woken in a few hours' time by Mrs. Dursley's scream as she opened the front door to put out the milk bottles, that he would spend the next few weeks being prodded and pinched by his cousin Dudley.

Which is to say there needn't actually be any nor in the first place, nor any constant repetition of not knowing. It's not that nor is "short for" anything in that sense - it's just that some words which could have been repeated are elided (missed out because they're obvious). As OED says, nor is a conjunction...

used before the second or further of two or more alternatives, normally to negate each.


It's also worth pointing out that the sentence could have ended...

...put out the milk bottles, nor knowing that he would spend the next few weeks being prodded and pinched by his cousin Dudley.

...where obviously nor isn't short for "not knowing"


TL;DR: nor itself isn't really "short for" anything. It's just a variant of not / not either / neither. But because it's used to introduce second or subsequent alternatives, it often occurs in "list" contexts where the items in the list may be similar/related, and thus contain repeated elements which may be deleted (by ellipsis).

FumbleFingers Reinstate Monica

Posted 2013-03-07T00:01:16.633

Reputation: 52 587

1@WendiKidd: Yeah - it's the only important bit really. I'd already written the first sentence of the last paragraph before I wrote anything else, but it wasn't until I was just about to post the whole answer that it finally dawned on me why OP might think nor is a word that could in and of itself be said to "stand for" something longer. – FumbleFingers Reinstate Monica – 2013-03-07T03:46:26.290

4

In this context, the implied verb is knowing. This doesn't mean that nor is a short form for nor knowing.

kiamlaluno

Posted 2013-03-07T00:01:16.633

Reputation: 20 456

1I'd just like to add for the benefit of future readers that this is true only in this specific case--as the sentence construction has already said "not knowing" multiple times, knowing is indeed the implied verb here. That isn't always what "nor" means, though; it depends upon context. +1 :) – WendiKidd – 2013-03-07T03:35:35.670

Of course: An implied verb depends from the context. – kiamlaluno – 2013-03-07T10:30:36.430