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  1. #1
    suprunp's Avatar
    suprunp is offline Senior Member
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    Default *the* NHK fee collector

    According to the lawyer’s investigation, Tengo was the only child of his mother and his father, the NHK fee collector, a fact recorded in his family register.
    (H. Murakami; 1Q84)

    Is it possible to say 'an NHK fee collector' here?
    How would it change the meaning?

    Thanks.

  2. #2
    susiedq is offline Member
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    Default Re: *the* NHK fee collector

    Was he the one and only fee collector? Then he is the collector.

    If he is one of many, then he is an NHK collector.

  3. #3
    suprunp's Avatar
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    Default Re: *the* NHK fee collector

    Quote Originally Posted by susiedq View Post
    Was he the one and only fee collector? Then he is the collector.

    If he is one of many, then he is an NHK collector.
    I don't think he was the only one. The company can't be relied upon a sole NHK collector if the fee is supposed to be collected literally from all over Japan.

  4. #4
    TheParser is offline Key Member
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    Default Re: *the* NHK fee collector

    ***** NOT A TEACHER *****


    (1) May I just add a note to susiedq's great answer.

    (2) I think that IF his father had been mentioned as an NHK fee collector earlier in the

    novel, then "the" would be the only "correct" word in your sentence. The "the" would

    then refer to the previously mentioned person.

    (3) It always helps me to remember that "the" is something like "that." So maybe

    your sentence means something like:

    Tengo was the only child of his mother and his father, that NHK collector who was

    mentioned earlier in the novel, ...

  5. #5
    suprunp's Avatar
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    Default Re: *the* NHK fee collector

    Yes, TheParser, he was actually mentioned earlier in the novel.

    Do you mean by 'then "the" would be the only "correct" word in your sentence.' that you would view 'an' as an "incorrect" word (taking into account the fact that he was mentioned earlier)?

    Thanks.

  6. #6
    TheParser is offline Key Member
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    Default Re: *the* NHK fee collector

    Quote Originally Posted by suprunp View Post
    you would view 'an' as an "incorrect" word (taking into account the fact that he was mentioned earlier

    ***** NOT A TEACHER *****


    (1) YES (if he was identified earlier as a fee collector).

    (2) Consider this horrible example of mine:

    Page 15: Tom is a teacher.

    Page 126: Mona finally met someone who respected her. Who was it? Was it

    Joe? Was it Ralph? No. Believe it or not, it was Tom, the teacher.

  7. #7
    5jj's Avatar
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    Default Re: *the* NHK fee collector

    So, if we are speaking to somebody who knows the forum, we might say, "bhaisahab, the moderator, wrote ...", which might be crudely paraphrased as, "bahaisahab, (I mean the bhai who [as you know] is a moderator, not the one who is a troll) is a moderator, wrote ....".

    If we said this to somebody who in fact does not know the person, they would almost certainly assume that there is only one moderator; misunderstanding is possible.

    If we are speaking to someone who does not know the forum, we might say, "bhaisahab, a moderator, wrote ...", in which his role is given as fresh information.

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