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This is from George Orwell's Down and Out in Paris and London:

"Thereupon a whole variegated chorus of yells, as windows were flung open on every side and half the street joined in the quarrel." (pg.1, Penguin edition).

It is the first part - "Thereupon a variegated chorus of yells" - which I am interested in. I am under the impression that "chorus" is used here as a noun; therefore, there is no verb in the phrase at the beginning of the sentence, yet it gives the impression of a clause. If the sentence were as follows, "Thereupon a variegated chorus of yells.", it would still make sense to me despite the absence of any verb. Is a verb implied?: "Thereupon a variegated chorus of yells (erupted)", for example. If so, is there a name for this? I am sure I have seen it before.

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  • I'd put the implied verb earlier: "Thereupon [came] a variegated chorus of yells …" May 23, 2014 at 10:44
  • It is a sentence fragment. It is used here for dramatic effect, and is fine as it is easily understood and not overdone. Peter has suggested a possible verb; it doesn't add much meaningwise, though converts to the more normal sentence structure. May 23, 2014 at 10:58
  • @EdwinAshworth I don't happen to think it is up to Orwell's usual standard. 'Variegated yells' don't arrive with you as a 'chorus', but as a 'cacophony'.
    – WS2
    May 23, 2014 at 13:30
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    See the first three paragraphs of Dickens' Bleak House: online-literature.com/dickens/bleakhouse/2
    – Neil W
    May 23, 2014 at 13:52
  • @WS2 Agreed – I'm not sure 'Down and Out in Paris and London' ever did fly. But then this is the Penguin edition. May 23, 2014 at 14:41

2 Answers 2

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Yes, the verb is implied here. It implies that the chorus of yells came out or erupted as you said.

As in the sentence a bit before this sentence came up in the text - "A succession of furious, choking yells from the street." The sentence is not complete in itself.

Authors tend to use incomplete sentences as a form of style which we may find inapt but then, the book goes way back. We can't complain.

Hope it helps.

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  • Thanks for that Veronica. I didn't notice the preceding one. Just shows that they are familiar, I guess. Is there a term for this? It looks like a form of ellipsis, but I can't find a more specific name.
    – nbhr
    May 23, 2014 at 11:56
  • I haven't come across a proper term for such sentences. Sorry, Won't be able to help much from here. Could you accept my answer if it helped to answer your question. May 23, 2014 at 14:33
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Technically it is not an omission but the 'flowerizing' speech:

Antemereia:

In rhetoric, anthimeria (traditionally and more properly called antimeria) is the use of a word as if it were a member of a different word class (part of speech); typically, the use of a noun as if it were a verb.

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  • Which non-verb word is being used a verb here, then? May 3, 2020 at 19:06

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