LifeDeath wrote:I just thought of it, isn't having a miracle something that is likely to be considered as a habitual action rather than something that is present at the very moment of speaking? An seizureattack of any disease can, as we discussed, or something that may have a passive/habitual state (lurking) and an active state (manifesting) and is used with no aspect at all or with the progressive aspect respectively. But a miracle either exists or doesn't at all.
That depends entirely on the type of miracle, doesn't it?
When Jesus and his disciples walked on water, that was an active manifestation of a miracle (as demonstrated by the fact that, the moment he started doubting the miracle, Peter began to sink).
LifeDeath wrote:Or maybe if you want to stress the action there's probably better ways of doing it, by using different more appropriate verbs, for example. Like "We're experiencing/expecting/watching/beholding/etc a miracle". Do you totally disagree?
Totally. Sure, you can use alternative phrasing, but they all emphasise difference aspects of the event and that may not be what the speaker wants to do.
LifeDeath wrote:And I've remembered another interesting question about articles from the same song. There's a line in it: "It's a miracle we need, the miracle". I suppose it's some kind of linguistic play or something that a non-native speaker can hardly understand. In simple words: I don't understand why they used the word with the indefinite article and then right away with the definite one. As we've discussed many times, one of the functions of the definite article is to show to your listener that you expect them to know exactly what noun you're taking about. So it's like Queen first introduced that there's a miracle that people need, and then they made it clear about what one exactly they're talking about, so it's like I should instantly understand what thing/process/event is meant by it. But the problem is I don't, I can only guess from the context.
The context is pretty damn clear:
The one thing we're all waiting for, is peace on earth and an end to war,
It's a miracle we need, the miracle, the miracle,
Peace on earth and end to war today[.]
There's no way to phrase it more explicit than that.
LifeDeath wrote:Or maybe this usage is even more complicated. I'm not even sure if I'll be able to word and explain it clearly, but maybe when a person knows that his listener does not know about a noun he's [*] going to use and he uses the definite article with it, he's like trying to make the listener think as if the listener knows this exact word, and the first one that he remembers or comes to his mind is going to be the one, even if, in fact, it's not what the speaker actually means. And both sides of conversation are aware of and understand this concept. It's like saying: "Alright I know you're not stupid, that's why I'm gonna use a word with the definite article so you'll instantly come up with what it stands for, and whichever one you choose is going to be correct". I think this kind of semantics/connotation will lack if the indefinite article is used. Anyway that's very difficult for a non-native mindset. But what do you think about it? Does my last supposition make any sense? Maybe not in this case, but in other.
This is all irrelevant, as the concept referred to is explicitly indicated before the word is used.
LifeDeath wrote:[*] Is it okay to use the third-person "they" here?
Not only is it okay, but it's common and gaining ground even in formal contexts.
LifeDeath wrote:It's funny that I mentioned two persons, that's why using "they" could imply that I was referirng to them both. If the sentence was "When a person knows a noun they're going to use..." I'd have used "they". I'm interested, how would you understand it, as a common pronoun for "a speaker and a listener" or as a third-person plural pronoun for only "a speaker" in the given context?
It wouldn't have phased me.