Behold the Scottish male, at his happiest when in denial
I don't get it!
This is a phrase from Ian Rankin's novel. I think I understand very well each word here, but the meaning of the whole sentence is absolutely vague and grammatically incoherent to me. Help me please!
There's nothing wrong with the grammar, but the meaning is certainly abstruse out of context: in which book was it, and what were the circumstances?
It's not grammatically incoherent at all.
"Behold the Scottish male" = an imperative to look at (or consider) the typical Scotsman
"at his happiest when in denial" = a description of his condition.
You will see this construction a lot:
"She's happiest (or 'at her happiest') when she's dancing."
"He's at his best when he's got an appreciative audience."
"You're really seeing me at my worst this morning; come back in the afternoon when I've had a chance to relax and get myself together."
Although "happiest" is technically an adjective and you would expect "at" to go with a noun, here the noun is implied -- at his happiest (point, state, condition, frame of mind, etc.).
Most Scots (whether m or f) are in denial......no way are we subordinate to the English, and with that, we are over the moon.
Behold a Scottish male in denial...happy as a pig in s**t. :-)
to Ocher Uriel and Delirious Damian :
so putting it in my own words, the typical Scotsman feel happy denying?
Yes, it does make sense regarding the context:
-Do you want to talk about any of it? (....)
-I don't think talking would help.
-But bottling it up does? (...) Behold the Scottish male, at his happiest when in denial.
Thanks a lot. But still the phrase looks unusual to me, sounds (to my ESL ears) like some quotation or proverb.
In other words,
Consider the Scottish male: he is happiest when he is in self-denial.
Self-denial means he can't live up to his own expectations so he can't accept his true predicament in life.
When someone is "in denial" they are deliberately refusing to see things for the way they really are.
Try reading a novel by Scottish author Irving Welsh.
The novel Adam is most probably referring to is Trainspotting, a story of the seedy low life drugs scene in Edinburgh, made into a film with Ewan McG. yaaawwwnnn..... like the new Rebus ITV series of Ian Rankin's stories of crime in this city. Both give a bad impression of my beautiful and cultural and civilised and fun place city! :-(
***Writer Irvine is said to be on the verge of quitting Scotland after being offered a job in the U.S - teaching American students the finer art of talking Scottish!***
Now that would be really guid to see (or rather hear)! Pure Edinburghspeak pervading deepest darkest Detroit..... LOL
Does Adam actually answer any real on topic questions around here. I've had a look and can't find any. In the last week I've answered more.