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  1. #1
    Pedroski is offline Senior Member
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    Default young lady needs help

    Jane moved house. Susan's sister helped her.

    Who helped whom?

    Susan's sister helped her. Who helped whom?

    Is this simply a case of too little information, rampant ambiguity, or new usage of pronouns?

  2. #2
    svartnik is offline Banned
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    Default Re: young lady needs help

    Hi Pedro

    You disappeared like a Rolex Cellini.

    Jane moved houses. Susan's sister helped her.

    There are two persons in this story:

    Jane and Susan's sister; the latter the helper. It is Jane who received help.
    It might be too late for me, and probably that is why I can't not see any trick in the story.

  3. #3
    Barb_D's Avatar
    Barb_D is offline Moderator
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    Default Re: young lady needs help

    Susan's sister (whose name we do not know) helped Jane with Jane's move. That's the only logical conclusion if those two sentences are all that is provided and we are to understand that they are connected.

    If they are two isolated sentences, then I would assume Susan's sister (still nameless) helped Susan, but what she helped with, we don't know.

    {not at teacher}

  4. #4
    Monticello's Avatar
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    Default Re: young lady needs help

    Quote Originally Posted by Pedroski View Post
    Jane moved house. Susan's sister helped her.

    Who helped whom?

    Susan's sister helped her. Who helped whom?

    Is this simply a case of too little information, rampant ambiguity, or new usage of pronouns?
    Pedroski:

    I'm not aware of any English idiom: moved house. In the US, one would simply say: Jane moved. (- by implication, from one place of residence to another.) Or, more explicitly: Jane moved (in)to a new home.

    Further, by the given context, it follows that: Susan's sister helped her (Jane) move (in)to her (Jane's) new home.

    The word home is preferred here, as it implies a new place of residence, as opposed to a newly built house. If Jane's new home also happens to be a newly built house, then one would say: "Jane moved (in)to a new house."

  5. #5
    Tdol is offline Editor, UsingEnglish.com
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    Default Re: young lady needs help

    Quote Originally Posted by Monticello View Post
    Pedroski:

    I'm not aware of any English idiom: moved house. In the US, one would simply say: Jane moved. (- by implication, from one place of residence to another.) Or, more explicitly: Jane moved (in)to a new home.
    In British English you can move/move house/move home or move into a new house/home.

  6. #6
    Soup's Avatar
    Soup is offline VIP Member
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    Default Re: young lady needs help

    Quote Originally Posted by Pedroski View Post
    Jane moved house. Susan's sister helped her.

    Who helped whom?

    Susan's sister helped her. Who helped whom?

    Is this simply a case of too little information, rampant ambiguity, or new usage of pronouns?
    Well, I for one don't quite get what you're asking. Is it the reference you're questioning? The reason I ask is that this particular structure is often given as a classic example of referencing:


    • X1 moved house.
    • X2 (subject) helped X1/Y1 (object) move house.
    • Question: Who (X2) helped whom (Y1)?
    • => Jane's sister helped Jane. <Is this the circular referencing you meant to highlight?>


    ________________________
    The phrase moved house works in my dialect.

  7. #7
    Pedroski is offline Senior Member
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    Default Re: young lady needs help

    Ok, I see I have been unclear again!
    Sentences1) Jane moved house.
    Sentence 2) Susan's sister helped her.
    I take her in 2) to be a pronoun representing Jane in sentence 1).

    Sentence 3)
    Susan's sister helped her. Who helped whom??

    If you now say Susan's sister helped Susan, why not say that in the first sentence pair??

    Susan's is a determiner. Susan is not mentioned in 3). Do pronouns stand in for determiners? Are determiners Proper Nouns? Are they one and the same thing? Pronouns do become determiners, cf 'we Americans'. Or is the root cause of my uncertainty the ambiguity of the sentences?

  8. #8
    Barb_D's Avatar
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    Default Re: young lady needs help

    I'm sorry, but I still don't see why you're having trouble. Yes, the "her" in the second sentence refers to "Jane" in the first sentence.

    It would be assumed that the listener know both Jane and Susan. It's not even important that the listener have prior knowledge that Susan had a sister. No native speaker would be even slighly confused by hearing this.

  9. #9
    svartnik is offline Banned
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    Default Re: young lady needs help

    Quote Originally Posted by Tdol View Post
    In British English you can move/move house/move home or move into a new house/home.
    I have always thought only move houses is correct.

  10. #10
    svartnik is offline Banned
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    Default Re: young lady needs help

    Quote Originally Posted by Pedroski View Post
    Jane moved house. Susan's sister helped her.
    Intersentential anaphor, Pedro. Any bells ringing? "her" must be Jane and not Susan.

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