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This is certainly non-idiomatic, and it is strange. If I am lucky, I think I might get away with something like this by profoundly abusing the syntax of the language, but I cannot do it alone.

I halfheartedly claim that "wonder of" means something different that "wonder about".

"I wonder of emotions" vs "I wonder about emotions".

Perhaps to wonder about in this case suggests thoughts about specific emotions, happiness, sadness, etc., whereas to wonder of suggests purely abstract thoughts of emotion.

I think about the meaning of the word "of". It is an interesting mental exercise. Borrowing from Merriam Webster we have the following interesting case.

Definition 7: a function word to indicate something from which a person or thing is delivered

ex: eased of her pain
ex: robbed of all their belongings

When she is eased of her pain, her pain is that from which she is delivered (by the easing). When he is robbed, all of his possessions are that which he is delivered from (or perhaps taken from). Am I applying this correctly?

I further submit, if I had wondered of emotions, that would indicate emotions were that which I was delivered from by the wonderment.

My Questions

Would you point out flaws in my reasoning above?

What determines which verbs may be used with "of"?

Is there hope for me to use "wonder of" or "wondered of"?

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  • There is a famous song 'The Wonder of You' (see Wikipedia) which may be what is behind your thought on this.
    – Nigel J
    Dec 6 '19 at 8:25
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It is unusual and quite non-idiomatic, as you noted, but the phrase "wonder of" is not entirely untenable. The point of comparison is "dream". If I "dream about war", that implies I am dreaming about a specific war or about specifics of war, and that I am probably somehow involved. If I "dream of war", I am abstracted from the war and am thinking about it in some more general, hypothetical, or conceptual sense. If you're contemplating some poetic notion that doesn't have any associated specifics, it may actually be more effective to use "of". For example,

I wonder of the machine's soul

...might work more effectively than...

I wonder about the machine's soul

...as the common understanding is machines don't have souls, so there aren't actually concrete details to consider. In short, the use you propose is understandable, but again non-standard.

However, you cannot use it with the "Definition 7" of "of" you provided. The key difference is that verbs "rob" and "ease" indicate state changes. When a robbery or an easing happen, the state of the world — as perceivable by other observers — has been modified. Because wondering is a purely private and internal activity, there is no external state change to describe, which is what that particular definition of "of" is doing.

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  • Thanks a lot. This answer is well written, and it agrees with me which is most important after all. Your example makes a solid one sentence story. Cheers. Dec 7 '19 at 1:37
  • Quick followup here, it occurred to me yesterday that Little Dragon uses this construct in their song Ritual Union: genius.com/Little-dragon-ritual-union-lyrics. Mar 29 '20 at 16:30

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