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Thread: ellipsis

  1. #1
    navi tasan is offline Key Member
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    ellipsis

    1-I cannot describe god in any terms other than good.

    Does this mean:
    a-I cannot describe god in any terms other than good ones.
    or:
    b-I cannot describe god in any terms other than "good" . (the term 'good')

  2. #2
    lauralie2 is offline Senior Member
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    Re: ellipsis

    1b is my choice.

    God is good
    is the meaning I got, but that's just me.

  3. #3
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    Re: ellipsis

    1a was my first choice. After I read lauralie's answer, I changed my mind.
    It seems that, without context, the sentence is ambiguous.

  4. #4
    navi tasan is offline Key Member
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    Re: ellipsis

    Thank you both.

    I think in order to get the first meaning one has to put in 'ones'.

    Would you consider this correct:

    2-He won't wear any coat other than blue.
    (compare with: He won't wear any coat other than a blue one.)

    Would you say 2 works?

  5. #5
    lauralie2 is offline Senior Member
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    Re: ellipsis

    Quote Originally Posted by navi tasan View Post
    Thank you both.

    I think in order to get the first meaning one has to put in 'ones'.

    Would you consider this correct:

    2-He won't wear any coat other than blue.
    (compare with: He won't wear any coat other than a blue one.)

    Would you say 2 works?
    While "other than a blue one" is correct, it's forced, in my opinion. It's forced in that is doesn't carry the same meaning as "other than blue" wherein 'blue' is (a weird) substantive for "a coat the color of blue."

  6. #6
    navi tasan is offline Key Member
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    Re: ellipsis

    Quote Originally Posted by lauralie2 View Post
    While "other than a blue one" is correct, it's forced, in my opinion. It's forced in that is doesn't carry the same meaning as "other than blue" wherein 'blue' is (a weird) substantive for "a coat the color of blue."

    Thank you Lauralie.

    I don't quite get it. Would you say 'a coat the color of blue' or 'a coat of the blue color'?
    What change does the additon of 'one' make.
    And if one acknowledges that 'blue' is a weird substantive for 'a coat...' then isn't one acknowledging that the sentence itself is weird?

    I am not trying to argue or anything. These are just questions. I just don't seem to get it (and that happens quite often).

  7. #7
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    Re: ellipsis

    Quote Originally Posted by navi tasan View Post
    Thank you Lauralie.

    I don't quite get it. Would you say 'a coat the color of blue' or 'a coat of the blue color'? .
    I can't answer for lauralie, but I wouldn't say either. I think lauralie used 'a coat the color of blue' in an attempt to define the 'weird' use of blue as a substantive.

    For people interested in the grammar of nouns, colours (my BrE spelling) are a little weird. I suggest that you do not worry about this, navi; it's not really relevant to your original question.

  8. #8
    lauralie2 is offline Senior Member
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    Re: ellipsis

    Quote Originally Posted by navi tasan View Post
    Thank you Lauralie.

    I don't quite get it. Would you say 'a coat the color of blue' or 'a coat of the blue color'?
    Given these sentences:


    • He won't wear any coat other than blue.
    • He won't wear any coat other than a blue one.


    wherein the words "blue" and "one" function as nouns, the phrase "than blue" doesn't feel as if it's elliptical for "than a blue one." Rather, it seems to me to be elliptical for this 'weird' phrase: "a coat (the color) of blue" (weird in that it is not the phrase we are expecting), wherein "blue" functions as a noun, as the object of the preposition "of". Which makes "blue" a substantive in both the underlying form and the surface form:


    • He won't wear any coat other than (a coat of) blue.
    • He won't wear any coat other than a blue one.


    To me, the first sentence works better with an elliptical reading because the string "a coat of" is easy to omit. As for the second sentence, accounting for the ellipsis isn't all that easy, not logical, as we would have to account for the reason that discontinuous "a...one" is omitted. How does that work?


    Quote Originally Posted by navi tasan
    What change does the addit[i]on of 'one' make[?]
    The assumption there is that "one" is added. It's not, in my opinion. The example is forced (on us) because it is the only example given.

  9. #9
    Abstract Idea is offline Key Member
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    Re: ellipsis

    ----- Not an English teacher -----

    Quote Originally Posted by lauralie2 View Post


    • He won't wear any coat other than (a coat of) blue.
    • He won't wear any coat other than a blue one.

    Some additional thoughts (and questions):

    Along this line, would it be possible then to consider the original sentence as:

    • I cannot describe god in any terms other than (a god of) good.
    • I cannot describe god in any terms other than a good one.

    ?

    And furthermore, I ask, when 'good' is used as a noun, is it always a complete synonym of 'goodness' ? For instance is the sentence

    'I cannot describe god in any terms other than goodness'

    correct? If so, does it conceive the very same meaning of the original one?


    If I am understanding well this discussion, the central point here is whether good/blue should be interpreted as a noun or as an adjective in the shorter sentence versions.

  10. #10
    lauralie2 is offline Senior Member
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    Re: ellipsis

    Quote Originally Posted by Abstract Idea View Post
    ----- Not an English teacher -----



    Some additional thoughts (and questions):

    Along this line, would it be possible then to consider the original sentence as:

    • I cannot describe god in any terms other than (a god of) good.
    • I cannot describe god in any terms other than a good one.
    That one is a bit more straightforward:


    • I cannot describe God in any terms other than good (terms).
      • "good" describes "terms"
    • I cannot describe God in any terms other than a good one.
      • "a ... one" is problematic. It refers back to the noun "terms", a plural noun. Number agreement is off.


    Quote Originally Posted by Abstract Idea View Post
    And furthermore, I ask, when 'good' is used as a noun, is it always a complete synonym of 'goodness' ? For instance is the sentence

    'I cannot describe god in any terms other than goodness'

    correct? If so, does it conceive the very same meaning of the original one?
    No, the meanings differ. "Good" and "goodness" do not carry the same meaning.


    Quote Originally Posted by Abstract Idea View Post
    If I am understanding well this discussion, the central point here is whether good/blue should be interpreted as a noun or as an adjective in the shorter sentence versions.
    The thing is, "blue" functions as a noun in the shorter sentence, so its category is not of issue. The problem is determining how speakers decide how to shorten the sentence. Do they (a) omit a discontinuous phrase or (b) omit a continuous phrase:


    • He won't wear any coat other than blue.
      • (a) ...other than a blue one.
      • (b) ...other than a coat the color of blue.



    My opinion is that it is easier to omit a continuous phrase (b), but I have reservations about that applying to our example because the omitted phrase is 'weird'. The phrase "a coat of blue" is not all that modern, you know?

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