linguaphile wrote:Laugh lines is indeed what I would use. Despite the word "laugh" and the possible implication that they are caused by laughing too much, they are actually caused by aging
So the text is about continuous distress and how as a result, "The wrinkle surrounding the area between the nose and chin has appeared." At least that's how it stands now. If I change that to "laugh lines", I don't like how it sounds - because there's nothing about laughter or positive emotions here. Is my version too clumsy? Or is it because I'm not native and I can't see how the sense of laughter has disappeared and given way to the image of the actual thing?
Also some additional creativity is welcome in that text. What if we replace "laugh" with a synonym or an antonym which will give a darker connotation?
"In name only
" is a common phrase that means what you are trying to say, and its register is appropriate for a novel. "Husband in name only
" is what I would use. The other phrases you suggested ("husband in words", "husband in name" etc) are not as idiomatic and don't sound as natural to me or convey the meaning as clearly.
I very orten take a word away from common expressions, mostly because I'm trying to shorten something and it feels more important to make the phrase shorter than to convey the meaning clearly. Especially in text messages, but also in longer texts. I'm wondering if that would sound very odd and unidiomatic to a native.
And that all goes communicated to non-natives, since we all speak English but hardly anyone has grown up with it as their main language.
One of these days, I was even concerned when I had to write something to a person from England, I was like damn, that person is actually from an English-speaking country - I've got to double-check what I'm writing
(by the way I don't know I just did that thing I mentioned about leaving a word out as I wrote "to a native" and not "to a native speaker."
Also I often leave out the preposition from a phrasal verb. That would probably also be understood but sound incomplete?
linguaphile wrote:I'm not sure why you would want to avoid using the word "only".
Simply for reducing the amount of words. The sentence is too long. It breaks its symmetry. It draws too much attention to the husband not being a good one, when it's just a side thing. It's a long sentence about something else and this is extra information. I'd rather leave just "husband," because "husband in name only" is too much. But if something like "husband in name" was enough, I'd include it. It is much better to depict the husband as a bad one. But the main thing in the sentence is not what kind of husband he was but what has happened to her. So that balance should be preserved.
From all the phrases we've mentioned only "husband in name" feels like a fit. But if it's strikingly unidiomatic, it's going to be just "husband." Something is lost, but better this than shifting the focus of the sentence.
Also, the "only" implies that he was failing his obligations as a husband altogether. I want to imply that he was not a good husband, but not that he was not acting like a husband at all. So, the meaning becomes different as well.
linguaphile wrote:You can refer to a man's beauty or a woman's handsomeness. Some people do, some people don't. It doesn't necessarily indicate feminism or other -isms.
To me (as a non-native who's spent two months in an English-speaking country total), pretty for a man sounds non-native, and handsome for a woman - like you're trying to imply that there's something masculine about her or she's not a real woman. There was one girl who called me pretty and I thought "hm, she's Finnish - she has some small gaps in her English."
linguaphile wrote:Sometimes when a person describes a woman as "handsome" they are emphasizing a kind of "non-feminine" beauty about her; she looks nice but not in an especially feminine way.
Okay, so basically what I've thought. I'm also curious what linguoboy would say about her views.
linguaphile wrote:If you have concerns and want to make sure no one thinks you are taking some sort of "stand" on it, there is always still the word "handsomeness", and nothing wrong with using it. In a novel, when describing a man, I would say that it is probably the most "neutral" because it has been quite standard for a long time and therefore its use won't draw much attention to your word choice.
How did it come to be that men and women started to be called handsome or pretty / beautiful with different words?
linguaphile wrote:I'm not sure whether that is what you are trying for or not.
Yes, definitely. I was just wondering if the noun "beauty" has also been reserved for women as its adjective counterpart. If it wasn't, I could use it rather than "handsomeness" because the latter sounds a little bit like viewed from a woman's perspective - he's handsome and she appreciates that. I'm not a woman so I'd like to stay as neutral as possible.