Did you have any joy ​finding that ​book you ​wanted? We ​tried ​asking ​local ​libraries for ​information, but got no joy from any of them.

I noticed that the dictionary says that the word in question can take "ing" after it. How is this possible that a noun can take a verb which follows it? Are we supposed to treat "finding" as present participle which modifies the whole sentence? Like in "Did you have any joy (while or in) finding that book you wanted?.What kind of meaning relationship does "finding" in this context have with both "joy" and the sentence?What meaning does "finding" ascribe to the sentence?

  • In this sense "joy" means "success". – Hot Licks Dec 27 '15 at 21:19
  • @Hot Licks Yes, yes, but that's not what he was asking. He wants to know the syntactic function of the non-finite clause "finding that ​book you ​wanted" – BillJ Dec 27 '15 at 21:24
  • @BillJ - The same as in the sentence "Did you have any success finding..." – Hot Licks Dec 27 '15 at 21:26
  • @BillJ - The sentence, of course, is one of those that will get different schools of P-ists pissed at each other. I would call "finding... wanted" an adjective clause modifying "you", but I'm guessing others would (violently) disagree. – Hot Licks Dec 27 '15 at 21:40

"No joy" is colloquially used to mean something like, "I didn't find what I was looking for."

From 310Pilot at https://answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20070321071046AA5djqj

"Best Answer: The 'No Joy' call (and its opposite, 'Tally-Ho') came into aviation use during the Battle of Britain in WWII, by British fighter pilots. The British were the first to develop and use ground-based radar and controllers to direct fighter intercepts, with ground controlllers radioing headings and altitudes to fighter squadrons to direct them to enemy aircraft formations for interception.

The calls of 'No Joy' and 'Tally-Ho' were taken from English fox hunting jargon (mounted on horseback), meaning, respectively, 'I have not sighted my quarry' and 'I have sighted my quarry and am pursuing.'

Since this was the first use of radar identification and vectoring of aircraft, the terminology was adapted as a de-facto standard throughout the western world. It remains in common use today, even in the civilian aviation world, as it is a succinct method for conveying to a controller whether or not you have sighted the traffic they have called out to you. I use both terms as a SOP [Standard Operating Procedure].

Source(s): I am a long-time pilot, aircraft owner and former FAA ATCS [United States Federal Aviation Administration Air Traffic Control System controller], as well as an aviation history buff. -310Pilot"

  • Very interesting, but the OP was asking about the syntax of the sentence in question. Do you see the non-finite clause "finding that ​book you ​wanted" as modifying "joy" or as a catenative complement of "have? Because that's what it boils down to. – BillJ Dec 27 '15 at 20:58
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    @BillJ- I was assuming, perhaps incorrectly, that the phrase "no joy" might be unfamiliar to the OP, in which case his questions would be moot. You should craft your excellent comment into an answer. – Mark Hubbard Dec 27 '15 at 21:24
  • I found your message absolutely fascinating; a real insight into the origin of "joy" in that context. Just for once, though, I thought I'd tease out an answer from the other members. – BillJ Dec 27 '15 at 21:28
  • @MarkHubbard Thanks for the additional info but your answer to my question is completely off track. – Cihangir Çam Dec 27 '15 at 21:30
  • @CihangirÇam- Thank you for letting me know. I'll strive to do better in the future. – Mark Hubbard Dec 27 '15 at 21:33

Did you have any joy killing time?
Did you have any joy spending money?

The sentence structure is certainly intriguing. Joy can mean "success" in doing something. I had joy finding the definition of joy in the Merriam-Webster dictionary (my source definition).

Now to your second question. How should you translate this sentence? It depends on how it was intended. Let me give a couple of examples:

Did you have any joy-killing time?
Did you have any joy, killing time?
Did you have any joy in killing time?

As to your above example:

Did you have any joy, finding that book you wanted?
Did you have any joy in finding that book you wanted?

Depending on the verb after the word joy and what meaning joy has can change the sentence entirely!

Using it in other examples makes it clear that it has another meaning. I never knew joy could be used with a verb+ing afterwards! Thank you!

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