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  1. #1
    ochebubu is offline Newbie
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    Question meaning of "take on"

    Hello,
    I cant figure out the meaning of 28th-29th paragraphs of
    BBC article "Digital do-gooders: Why do we help strangers online?"
    BBC News - Digital do-gooders: Why do we help strangers online?

    Could you explain the meaning of following sentence?
    "Is it altruistic? That's a bigger question than I'm willing to take on,"

    Followings are 28-29th paragraphs of the article.
    There are also purists who see writing code as an art form in itself - it can be "ugly" or "beautiful" - and strive for ever more elegant forms of code, according to author Steve Weber, who has written on the success of the model.

    "Is it altruistic? That's a bigger question than I'm willing to take on," he says. "But I think it would be wrong to assume that there isn't a meaningful set of people who just think 'Hey, I'm going to do this and give it away because it's good for the world.'"


    I'll be grateful for your help,

  2. #2
    emsr2d2's Avatar
    emsr2d2 is offline Moderator
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    Re: meaning of "take on"

    This forum has a great database of phrasal verbs. If you click on "Reference" at the top and then Phrasal Verbs, it take you HERE. Just choose "T", scroll down to all the phrasal verbs under "Take" and you will find "Take on". Which one of the three definitions do you think fits?
    Remember - correct capitalisation, punctuation and spacing make posts much easier to read.

  3. #3
    ochebubu is offline Newbie
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    Question Re: meaning of "take on"

    To emsr2d2

    Thank you for teaching me about the database.
    I had referred to "take on" in my dictionaries and now also referred to the database
    found three definitions.
    - Allow passengers on a ship or plane
    - Assume a responsibility
    - Employ

    But still I can't figure out which of the three fits in
    "Is it altruistic? That's a bigger question than I'm willing to take on",
    though I assume at least "Allow passengers on a ship or plane" doesn't fit in the sentence.

    So please, please teach me the meaning of this sentence.
    Warm regards,

  4. #4
    probus's Avatar
    probus is offline Key Member
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    Re: meaning of "take on"

    My take on take on is that it is not necessarily a verb.

  5. #5
    emsr2d2's Avatar
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    Re: meaning of "take on"

    Quote Originally Posted by probus View Post
    My take on take on is that it is not necessarily a verb.
    In the OP's original sentence, it is.
    Remember - correct capitalisation, punctuation and spacing make posts much easier to read.

  6. #6
    emsr2d2's Avatar
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    Re: meaning of "take on"

    At this point, I will apologise and say that I think that the definition you are looking for here actually isn't listed in our database! In my opinion, "to take on" in your context and in the context of, for example, an opponent in a fight is "to fight", "to tackle" or "to deal with".

    If a boxer has won his last ten fights, he might be asked "So you're doing really well at the moment. Who are you going to take on next? The Olympic Champion?" That means "Who will your next opponent be?"
    A person who has run three half-marathons might say "OK. I'm ready to take on a full marathon now". He is ready to sign up for a 26-mile run and actually do it. It's a challenge.

    Initially, I thought that "assume responsibility for" could be said to fit the original context but with hindsight, that doesn't really work. If a question is "too big" for someone to take on, I would say that means they consider the question too difficult to tackle.
    Last edited by Rover_KE; 09-Oct-2013 at 09:06. Reason: Fixing typos
    Remember - correct capitalisation, punctuation and spacing make posts much easier to read.

  7. #7
    LeTyan is offline Member
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    Re: meaning of "take on"

    Phrasal verbs are usually very tricky. You might even come across "take on a challenge".

  8. #8
    Raymott's Avatar
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    Re: meaning of "take on"

    Quote Originally Posted by emsr2d2 View Post
    Initially, I thought that "assume responsibility for" could be said to fit the original context but with hindsight, that doesn't really work. If a question is "too big" for someone to take on, I would say that means they consider the question too difficult to tackle.
    I think "to assume responsibility" is a close enough definition. The author does not feel capable of assuming the responsibility of answering whether the phenomenon is caused by altruism or not. I have taken on the question of whether "assume the responsibility" is a sufficient definition or not. You may choose (or not) to take on a rebuttal of my opinion.
    "Responsibility" is a difficult word for some beginners, and is even ambiguous at times for experts. "Taking on a question", for example, could mean simply to take the time to think about and answer a question to the best of one's ability; or it could mean to assume formal responsibility for giving accurate information and the correct answer.
    Anyone who takes on (answers) a question here is assuming some responsibility for their answer (one would hope).

  9. #9
    ochebubu is offline Newbie
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    Red face Re: meaning of "take on"

    To emsr2d2

    Thank you again for your kind advice.

    I read through your answer and then the BBC article again and again.
    Then now, I think that "assume responsibility " fits in the sentence.
    I understand that the author thinks he can't answer whether the a
    ctivities of online volunteers are based on altruism or not because it's too big issue.

  10. #10
    ochebubu is offline Newbie
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    Re: meaning of "take on"

    To Raymott

    Thank you so much for your kind and detailed advice.

    I read through your answer and then the BBC article again and again.
    Then now, I think that "assume responsibility " fits in the sentence.
    I understand that the author thinks he can't answer whether the activities
    of online volunteers are based on altruism or not because it's too big issue.
    Last edited by ochebubu; 10-Oct-2013 at 07:30. Reason: to correct typo: youso→you so

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