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Thread: as young/old as

  1. #1
    Itasan is offline Member
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    Default as young/old as

    Do the following both work? Is there any difference
    in meaning?
    1. His brother is as young as my brother.
    2. His borther is as old as my brother.
    Thank you.

  2. #2
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    Default Re: as young/old as

    Yes. They work, and yes, they mean different things.

    1. His brother Max is as young as my brother Sam.
    => Max and Sam are younger brothers, and they are close in age.

    2. His brother Max is as old as my brother Sam.
    => Max and Sam are older brothers, adn they are close in age.



  3. #3
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    Default Re: as young/old as

    I don't know.. the more I stared at:

    1. His brother is as young as my brother.
    2. His borther is as old as my brother.

    the more I thought, maybe they do mean the same thing? The more I babble like below, the more they all sound the same, or equally correct, to me...

    "Hey, Dennis, doesn't Tommy have a little brother like you do?"
    "Yeah, his brother is as young as mine, just a little guy."
    "And doesn't he have a little sister, too?"
    "Yup, she's as old as my little sister is... they're both six."
    "Oh. How old is your little brother?"
    "He's five."
    "Oh. And your other little brother looks tiny. How young is he?"
    "He's only five months."

    I might be wrong, but aren't old and young examples of unmarked words?

    Like "long", in its marked form, means something of substantial length... but in its unmarked form, it refers merely to length, even if it is short.

    The ship is very long. (Marked)
    How long is the amoeba? (Unmarked)

    The boy is old.. he is an older brother... both marked.
    How old is the boy? How old is your baby brother? Seven days. Unmarked form.

    The boy is young.. how young is your brother? Twenty-three.
    Oh. How old is your other brother? Nineteen.

    Though, like always, I could be on a completely wrong track with this... I haven't even thought about marked and unmarked words for a looooong time, to use a marked word...

  4. #4
    Itasan is offline Member
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    Default Re: as young/old as

    Thank you very much, Robert, for the very interesting answer.
    "I am an old man." (Marked) "I am 70 years young." (Unmarked)
    "He is a young boy." (Marked) "He is seven years young." (Unmarked)
    Do they work?
    Itasan

  5. #5
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    Default Re: as young/old as

    Yes, if I remember correctly.

    When using a measurement, tall/short, high/low, old/young, hot/cold,

    you can use them as marked words... a ten foot man is very tall, a two foot man is very short,

    OR

    as unmarked words... when you ask "How tall is he?" you do not say, you do not imply that the answer is "He is very tall" or "He is very short"... "How tall is he?" only asks a question.

    How do you choose which one to use in your question?

    IN GENERAL, you use the 'top' word... How tall is he, how high is it, how old is he, how hot is it.

    BUT, you choose the other one whenever you want, ESPECIALLY when you expect a different answer.

    For Example, Hot/Cold.

    On a thermometer, HOT is 'above' or is the 'top' word... so you NORMALLY say

    "How hot is it?"

    BUT, that sounds silly when talking about cold things.. "How hot is the snow?" "How hot is the ice cream?"... you would say "How cold is the snow, how cold is the ice cream... how cold is it outside?"

    Same with Old/Young... Old is the 'top' word, so NORMALLY you hear, "How old is he?"

    BUT, when you are expecting the answer to talk about something young, or youth, you can easily use the other term.

    "Is that girl allowed to drink alcohol? How young is she?" sounds, I believe, just as correct as "How old is she"... you are asking her age, but you are ALSO pointing out her youth...

    BUT, in GENERAL, use the top term... How tall is that building, how tall is that car... But do not be afraid to switch.... "That is the smallest car I have seen; how short is it?"

  6. #6
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    Default Re: as young/old as

    Quote Originally Posted by Robert B. Mercer
    I could be on a completely wrong track with this... I haven't even thought about marked and unmarked words for a looooong time, to use a marked word...
    Not at all. Markedness is important . . . given the right semantic context as you've shown in your examples. As is though, [1] and [2] express different things, the default reading. Provide additional context, and the meaning changes, evolves. Environment is everything.

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