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I have a question about a prepositional phrase beginning with 'of'

“The Marmite and the dripping soak into the burned toast,” she says, of the culinary ode to her after-school snack, “and when you pop the tartare into it, it elevates the flavour to another place.”

source: https://www.theguardian.com/food/2020/feb/26/love-it-or-hate-it-marmite-is-having-a-massive-foodie-moment

In the paragraph, the phrase 'of the culinary ode to her after-school snack' is between commas. So I think it's additional information. But I wonder what word is linked to the preposition 'of'.

Is this sentence the same as the sentence

'I felt I was living through those moments with every word I spoke,” the Oscar-winning actor says of her new memoir,'

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  • 1
    A lot of folks would view that as a "parenthetical".
    – Hot Licks
    Jul 27, 2022 at 2:06
  • Your two examples are not identical forms. There is no rule for the pairing of says of every time. In your first example, I could live with or without the comma. Jul 27, 2022 at 4:25
  • The first example is fine. The second is a bit off because the actor was speaking not of her memoir but of some period of her life. If the book-reviewer who wrote what you quoted wanted to say that the actor was quoting from her memoir, then that is not a good way to phrase the parenthetical remark. (Something along the lines of "as the Oscar-winning actor writes in her new memoir" would do.)
    – Rosie F
    Jul 27, 2022 at 4:50
  • The culinary ode to her after-school snack seems to refer to a restaurant dish based on the chef's memories of eating Marmite on toast as a child. She says this of (about) it. Jul 27, 2022 at 7:21
  • @RosieF The second is a bit off because the actor was speaking not of her memoir but of some period of her life. The actor is describing recording an audio book of her memoirs (hence "spoke"). So she's speaking about how she felt recording her memoir.
    – Stuart F
    Jul 28, 2022 at 12:55

1 Answer 1

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I say of this question that it depends on the meaning and usage of “of”. Among the many usages we find:

Cambridge
about; relating to

In your second example: “… the Oscar-winning actor says of (about) her new memoir

Your first example is easily recast as an unbroken quotation. It then parallels your first example and uses “of” in the same way:

The Marmite and the dripping soak into the burned toast, and when you pop the tartare into it, it elevates the flavour to another place “, she says of (about) the culinary ode to her after-school snack.

In both examples, “of” therefore refers to the following noun (memoir, ode).

The structure of the first example is that of a quoted verbal statement that is is broken in two for effect. A shorter example might be “I am going out”, she said. When put in the form of your second example it would be:

“I am”, she said, “going out”. The quotation marks apply to the broken quotation, not to she said.

The first two quotation marks enclose the first part of what she said; the second pair encloses the second part.

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  • Hello, Anton. Thank you for your comment. I wonder why the writer put the 'of' phrase 𝘰𝘧 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘤𝘶𝘭𝘪𝘯𝘢𝘳𝘺 𝘰𝘥𝘦 𝘵𝘰 𝘩𝘦𝘳 𝘢𝘧𝘵𝘦𝘳-𝘴𝘤𝘩𝘰𝘰𝘭 𝘴𝘯𝘢𝘤𝘬 between commas,
    – Homa Arvin
    Jul 27, 2022 at 22:12
  • I have edited to try to explain this point. Quotation marks always come in pairs and each pair only applies to the material within itself.
    – Anton
    Jul 28, 2022 at 7:16
  • Thanks, Anton. I really appreciate your answer ":) What about the comma between 'says' and 'of'? Considering your explanations, shouldn't it be '“The Marmite and the dripping soak into the burned toast,” she says of the culinary ode to her after-school snack, “and when you pop the tartare into it, it elevates the flavour to another place.” then ?
    – Homa Arvin
    Jul 28, 2022 at 11:48
  • Use of no commas or a pair of commas seems to me to be a matter of author's taste. By using the pair of commas the reader's attention is primarily focussed on her speaking, with the ode as a secondary matter. Without the commas, the reader is invited to see the speaking about the ode as the whole topic. But the distinction is finely balanced and not too important.
    – Anton
    Jul 28, 2022 at 21:28

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