Take the 2-minute tour ×
English Language & Usage Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for linguists, etymologists, and serious English language enthusiasts. It's 100% free, no registration required.

He survived 10 attempts on his life, and at 82 his health was a subject of speculation.

What do the people speculate, health or subject ?

share|improve this question
add comment

closed as general reference by Jasper Loy, simchona, waiwai933 Aug 27 '11 at 20:38

This question is too basic; it can be definitively and permanently answered by a single link to a standard internet reference source designed specifically to find that type of information.If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

4 Answers

up vote 4 down vote accepted

It means the subject of their speculation was his health.

share|improve this answer
add comment

They are speculating that his health might be in less than stellar shape. What is the subject of speculation? "His health". Speculation requires a subject, like a conversation, or a contemplation.

This is either about Mubarak, or perhaps Steve Jobs.

share|improve this answer
1  
thank you, Chris. This is a news about Mubarak. Democracy! –  lovespring Feb 10 '11 at 23:21
    
Yeah, the "Steve Jobs" bit was a poor attempt at humor. –  Chris B. Behrens Feb 10 '11 at 23:54
    
In my native language, 'speculate' almost cannot be used as a noun, so we usually say:" His heath is a speculated subject". –  lovespring Feb 11 '11 at 0:49
add comment

The health.

"This talk is on the subject of the local teenagers" It's a formal, but useless addition to many sentences. You would say subjection to talk about what is being done to the teenagers.

With your quote it can be ambiguous, his health may have been notably unperfect before, as is the case with Mubarak.

share|improve this answer
    
Thank you, tobylane. –  lovespring Feb 11 '11 at 0:46
add comment

"His health was a subject...."

But that sentence begs the question: a subject in what sense? A subject of irony? Of embitterment? Of disgust? Of discussion? To be a "subject" just means, here, to be a topic of conversation.

So the sentence then adds: "His health was a subject of speculation", or in other words, a subject about which many people offered estimates or guesses.

Further, your question should read "About what do the people speculate?", or "What is it the people speculate about?" One could answer it this way:

"What are the people speculating upon?" "A subject." "What subject???" "His health."

share|improve this answer
add comment

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.