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驚いたなんてものじゃない

eeky

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Hi,

大広間のすべての目がいっせいに自分に向けられるのを感じながら、ハリーはただ座っていた。驚いたなんてものじゃない。痺れて感覚がない。夢を見ているに違いない。きっと聞き違いだったのだ。

What is the meaning of 驚いたなんてものじゃない and 痺れて感覚がない? I am confused especially by whether じゃない is negative or positive, and by the fact that 痺れる can apparently mean two nearly opposite things: to become numb and to be excited.
 

Mike Cash

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It means that "surprised" isn't a strong enough way of expressing his feeling/reaction. It was beyond that.
 

Toritoribe

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by the fact that 痺れる can apparently mean two nearly opposite things: to become numb and to be excited.
It's the former here.
 

eeky

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So together it means "He is beyond surprised. He is numb and feels nothing.", right?
 

Majestic

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Already overkill perhaps, but this structure and usage isn't far from the English use of phrases like;

Q. Were you excited when you met the Queen?
A. Excited doesn't begin to cover it!
A. Excited isn't the word for it!
A. Excited isn't the half of it!

If you tried to reverse-engineer any of those phrases into a direct Japanese translation, the result might be confusing due to the negation of the word "excited" implied in all of them.
 
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Mike Cash

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The dismissive aspect of なんて is also an important element.
 
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