I have some questions

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Re: I have some questions

Postby linguoboy » 2018-11-06, 20:24

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.
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How to go beyond C2 English

Postby langmon » 2018-11-10, 10:47

How to go beyond C2 English, making some more steps towards to the similar-to-native understanding of all of those subtle nuances and connotations?
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Re: How to go beyond C2 English

Postby voron » 2018-11-10, 16:02

SomehowGeekyPolyglot wrote:How to go beyond C2 English, making some more steps towards to the similar-to-native understanding of all of those subtle nuances and connotations?

C2 is already beyond natives' level. Most natives don't achieve C2.

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Re: How to go beyond C2 English

Postby langmon » 2018-11-10, 16:14

voron wrote:
SomehowGeekyPolyglot wrote:How to go beyond C2 English, making some more steps towards to the similar-to-native understanding of all of those subtle nuances and connotations?

C2 is already beyond natives' level. Most natives don't achieve C2.


Well, maybe there are some similar-but-not-the-same explanations/definitions of C2?

That would be one I read,

"The capacity to deal with material which is academic or cognitively demanding, and to use language to good effect at a level of performance which may in certain respects be more advanced than that of an average native speaker.
Example: CAN scan texts for relevant information, and grasp main topic of text, reading almost as quickly as a native speaker."


[No additional emphasis or capitalization added by me, except the italics.]

So there is both of "which may in certain respects be more advanced than that of an average native speaker", and "reading almost as quickly as a native speaker"... :hmm:
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Re: I have some questions

Postby Dormouse559 » 2018-11-10, 16:44

So, where do you want to get to that is beyond using the language almost as well as, and sometimes better than, a native speaker? I mean, even native speakers have times when their ability seems less than native.
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Re: I have some questions

Postby langmon » 2018-11-10, 17:39

Dormouse559 wrote:So, where do you want to get to that is beyond using the language almost as well as, and sometimes better than, a native speaker? I mean, even native speakers have times when their ability seems less than native.


It wasn't exactly meant that way. To me, C2 was and still is a close-to-native understanding in some cases, although it can be more than that in some others, too.

My current English quest (other than something related to some pidgins) is trying to get a deeper understanding of some subtle nuances and word connotations.

For example, a long time ago I found a certain table somewhere on the Internet. It had three columns. "What British people say, what British people mean, what the rest of the EU understands".

Among the examples being mentioned was "considering to do something". Because the (or at least a) literal meaning is something like "thinking about if one wants to do something or not". British people often could say something like "Consider doing it" while intending "you should think about it, but not only that, you also should (afterwards) come to the conclusion that you really need to do it and that there is no second possibility".

The third column said, [considering to do something means to the rest of the EU] "Think about it. And whatever you decide is fine to me, no matter if you do it or not".
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Re: I have some questions

Postby langmon » 2018-11-10, 18:39

These are some more examples. (By the way, I do realize that not every British person would use these words that way.) They have been taken from a certain article, and I didn't include all of them here.
Source, providing it only because of not wanting making The Economist cry :):
https: // www . economist.com / johnson / 2011 / 05 / 27 / this-may-interest-you


What the British say: "I hear what you say"
What the British mean: "I disagree and do not want to discuss it any further"
What is understood:"He accepts my point of view"

What the British say: "With the greatest respect"
What the British mean: "I think you are wrong (or a fool)"
What is understood: "He is listening to me"

What the British say: "Correct me if I'm wrong"
What the British mean: "I know I'm right--please don't contradict me"
What is understood: "Tell me what you think"

What the British say: "That's not bad"
What the British mean: "That's good or very good"
What is understood: "That's poor or mediocre"

What the British say: "QUITE good" (with the stress on the "quite")
What the British mean: "A bit disappointing"
What is understood: "Quite good"

What the British say: "quite GOOD" (with the stress on the "good ")
What the British mean: "excellent"
What is understood: "Quite good"

What the British say: "Perhaps you would like to think about...."/"I would suggest..." /"It would be nice if..."
What the British mean: "This is an order. Do it or be prepared to justify yourself..."
What is understood: "Think about the idea, but do what you like"

What the British say: "Do as much as you think is justifed [sic]"
What the British mean: "Do it all"
What is understood: "Do what you can"

What the British say: "Oh, by the way/Incidentally ..."
What the British mean: "The primary purpose of our discussion is..."
What is understood: "This is not very important ..."

What the British say: "Very interesting"
What the British mean: "I don't agree/I don't believe you"
What is understood: "They are impressed"

What the British say: "Could we consider some other options"
What the British mean: "I don't like your idea"
What is understood: "They have not yet decided"

What the British say: "I'll bear it in mind "
What the British mean: "I will do nothing about it"
What is understood: "They will probably do it"

What the British say: "Please think about that some more"
What the British mean: "It's a bad idea: don't do it"
What is understood: "It's a good idea, keep developing it"

What the British say: "I'm sure it's my fault"
What the British mean: "I know it is your fault, please apologise"
What is understood: "It was somebody else's fault"

What the British say: "That is an original point of view"
What the British mean: "You must be mad, or very silly"
What is understood: "They like my ideas!"
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Re: I have some questions

Postby linguoboy » 2018-11-12, 20:39

I've seen similar lists elsewhere; this is more complete than most. One of my personal favourites is "in your own time" which means "ASAP" rather than "whenever".
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Re: I have some questions

Postby langmon » 2018-11-12, 20:43

linguoboy wrote:I've seen similar lists elsewhere; this is more complete than most. One of my personal favourites is "in your own time" which means "ASAP" rather than "whenever".


Any idea why (some) British persons prefer that way of speech instead of being more direct?
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Re: I have some questions

Postby linguoboy » 2018-11-12, 20:52

SomehowGeekyPolyglot wrote:
linguoboy wrote:I've seen similar lists elsewhere; this is more complete than most. One of my personal favourites is "in your own time" which means "ASAP" rather than "whenever".

Any idea why (some) British persons prefer that way of speech instead of being more direct?

Maybe there's some complex ontological explanation, but I've just learned that some cultures are more indirect in these matters than others. I spent a lot of the past weekend with a Gujarati friend and I found we had a similarly indirect approach to requests and criticism. Instead of demanding what we wanted, we would only "suggest". It made planning difficult, because I kept deferring to him (as a guest) and he kept deferring to me (out of politeness).

It's also important to keep class and regional differences in mind. My friend and I are both solidly middle class, and I get the feel that most of those British expressions are as well. Lower-class Britons wouldn't be indirect (whereas lower-class American Southerners would be even more indirect).
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Re: I have some questions

Postby LifeDeath » 2018-12-10, 17:01

Hello guys. I've got some simple questions for today.

1. What is plural for "mouse" when talking about a computer device? "Mice" or "Mouses"? What would you use in the following context: "He's planning on starting up a world-known tech company, but now he's only retailing devices like keyboards and computer mouses"?

2. What if I have a diary where I jot down my corny thoughts and suddenly I've left one page absolutely blank in between two pages with text. That's probably because two pages were glued when I turned one, or I accidentally turned two pages. Would a word "flip" work here?
Like: "I liked your diary, but there's a page in the middle with no text at all".
"Oh I know, I just flipped one page accidentally".

Or maybe "miss" is a better choice? Or "skip"? But I guess that "skip" has a connotation of a deliberate action.

3. Do you think there are cases when a superlative form of an adjective can be used with the indefinite article?

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Re: I have some questions

Postby linguoboy » 2018-12-10, 17:11

LifeDeath wrote:1. What is the plural forof "mouse" when talking about a computer device? "Mice" or "Mouses"? What would you use in the following context: "He's planning on starting up a world-known tech company, but now he's only retailing devices like keyboards and computer mouses"?

Both mice and mouses are acceptable for the device. "Mice" is more common, but I actually think "mouses" sounds better in this context myself.

LifeDeath wrote:2. What if I have a diary where I jot down my corny thoughts and suddenly I've left one page absolutely blank in between two pages with text. That's probably because two pages were glued when I turned one, or I accidentally turned two pages. Would athe word "flip" work here?
Like: "I liked your diary, but there's a page in the middle with no text at all".
"Oh I know, I just flipped one page accidentally".

Or maybe "miss" is a better choice? Or "skip"? But I guess that "skip" has a connotation of a deliberate action.

No, you can accidentally skip something. Skip sounds most natural to me, to the point where I might even mishear "flip" as "skip" in your example above.

LifeDeath wrote:3. Do you think there are cases when a superlative form of an adjective can be used with the indefinite article?

Absolutely. https://english.stackexchange.com/questions/194239/can-i-use-indefinite-article-with-superlative-adjectives

Note that (as the link explains), this is done to heighten the rhetorical effect, so it should be done very sparingly and judiciously, otherwise it will sound like an error.
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Re: I have some questions

Postby langmon » 2018-12-10, 17:27

LifeDeath wrote:Hello guys. I've got some simple questions for today.

1. What is plural for "mouse" when talking about a computer device? "Mice" or "Mouses"? What would you use in the following context: "He's planning on starting up a world-known tech company, but now he's only retailing devices like keyboards and computer mouses"?


Both are possible. "Mouses" is a specific plural (never seen it used for anything else). And "mice" is the usual one, which is also suitable for a computer mouse. Because that one is a metaphor. And pluralizing a word used metaphorically is done the same way as pluralizing a word used in the literal sense.

One also could re-phrase this sentence to avoid this "issue" :). This is what I sometimes might be doing in a few similar cases. For more than one reason. But in other cases, I wouldn't avoid it at all, even if some could object it.

Pre-Posting-Edit: After having written the paragraph above, I also stumbled upon a web site speaking about this very topic.

[https://painintheenglish . com/case/534] wrote:
[one of the users there] wrote:This is a tough one, because there really is no official ruling on this usage yet. Computer companies usually avoid this problem by using the phrase "mouse devices" instead. I would advise the same strategy if you mention the equipment in a formal paper, article, etc.



[...] Or "skip"? But I guess that "skip" has a connotation of a deliberate action.

"To skip" definitely is used for deliberate actions. And many (most ?) people would think of this (i.e. something intentional) and nothing else.

Don't know if it can be used for anything unintentional, too.

3. Do you think there are cases when a superlative form of an adjective can be used with the indefinite article?

Logically it makes sense. Because sometimes there are several things that all can be described with the superlative.

In addition, there are some Standard English usage examples of an indefinitive article plus a superlative. However, they aren't at all as many as the examples of a definitive article being used.

There is also a work-around :). It would be to simply say, "This way is one of the shortest ways to the destination" if there are several ways to it that take exactly the same amount of time.
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Re: I have some questions

Postby LifeDeath » 2018-12-10, 17:31

Yes thanks.
Is "world-known" an incorrect adjective? It's like he's dreaming that one day his company will be one of the biggest in the world and thus very famous, like "Google", "Samsung", etc.

linguoboy wrote:Note that (as the link explains), this is done to heighten the rhetorical effect, so it should be done very sparingly and judiciously, otherwise it will sound like an error.

Yeah I think that the option with "most" also sounds idiomatic to me in some contexts. But what about other adjectives? "Best", for example?
"I don't know who I will marry yet, but he must be a best". Maybe saying "the best" refers to all the people, while "a best" is used to talk about someone who's the best within a particular group? School class, any other group of people, etc. But this word with the indefinite article sounds extremely unidiomatic to me.

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Re: I have some questions

Postby linguoboy » 2018-12-10, 17:46

LifeDeath wrote:Is "world-known" an incorrect adjective? It's like he's dreaming that one day his company will be one of the biggest in the world and thus very famous, like "Google", "Samsung", etc.

It's correctly formed and has been used before but it's extremely uncommon and draws attention to itself. You might want to replace it with a more common term like "global" or "world-renowned".

LifeDeath wrote:"I don't know who I will marry yet, but he must be a best".

I would judge that ungrammatical. My mind is saying, "A best...what?"

LifeDeath wrote:Maybe saying "the best" refers to all the people, while "a best" is used to talk about someone who's the best within a particular group? School class, any other group of people, etc. But this word with the indefinite article sounds extremely unidiomatic to me.

It is. English is very limited when it comes to treating adjectives as substantives. It's difficult to come up with examples that feature an indefinite article.

Still, your example could be acceptable in a very particular context. Say you were discussing the pool of people you could marry and dividing them into categories like "acceptable", "good", "very good", "best", etc. With that context established, you could say "I don't know who I will marry yet, but he must be a best" and it would be understood as "a member of the 'best' category" (however you defined that category during the preceding conversation).
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Re: I have some questions

Postby LifeDeath » 2018-12-16, 13:39

Okay.

In some song I've found this sentence "All the world I've seen before me passing by". Is it me or does it sound ambiguous? I think I don't have enough experience in such structures so that's why it's confusing.

Is "me passing" a whole element? Like a pronoun used with a participle? For example "Wanna hear some stories about me failing to approach that girl?". And so the equialent to the given sentence is "I've seen all the world before I'm passing by".

Or is the participle describes the noun "world" mentioned earlier? So the equivalent is "In front of me I've seen all the world and now the world is passing by". ("is" is omitted in the original sentence, and "before" means "in front").
Which one do you think is intended? What makes the other option incorrect?

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Re: I have some questions

Postby voron » 2018-12-16, 13:50

LifeDeath wrote:In some song I've found this sentence "All the world I've seen before me passing by". Is it me or does it sound ambiguous? I think I don't have enough experience in such structures so that's why it's confusing.

It's just "before me" (=in front of me).

Весь мир, который я видел передо мной проходящим.

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Re: I have some questions

Postby LifeDeath » 2018-12-18, 13:50

Thanks.

Is there any difference between "to do something in an X way" and "to do something X-ly"? Are these always interchangeable? If not, are there any rules on it or does one simply need to memorize the usages or learn through experience?

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Re: I have some questions

Postby linguoboy » 2018-12-18, 15:45

LifeDeath wrote:Is there any difference between "to do something in an X way" and "to do something X-ly"? Are these always interchangeable? If not, are there any rules on it or does one simply need to memorize the usages or learn through experience?

Since I can't possibly consider every possible case, I'm just going to go out on a limb and say:
1. They're not interchangeable. (If they were, why have both constructions?)
2. You need to memorise the usages.

As for the differences, I could talk about specific examples, but I don't think I can make any sweeping generalisations.
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Re: I have some questions

Postby LifeDeath » 2018-12-20, 15:44

linguoboy wrote:Since I can't possibly consider every possible case, I'm just going to go out on a limb and say:
1. They're not interchangeable. (If they were, why have both constructions?)
2. You need to memorise the usages.

As for the differences, I could talk about specific examples, but I don't think I can make any sweeping generalisations.

When I considered it, I thought mainly of adjectives that people use to describe the way an action is being done.
It can be their estimation, like characteristics:
"He's doing it in a weird way" or "He's doing it weirdly". Other pairs are possible, such as "strange/strangely, odd/oddly, reluctant/reluctantly" and so on.
It can also be an obvious objective evaluation about an action:
"He's doing it in a slow way" or "He's doing it slowly". Other pairs are possible, too: "loud/loudly, quick/quickly, accurate/accurately" and so on.


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