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    #1

    Are they really different?

    Dear all,

    When I was reading a book on linguistics, I read an explanation I didn't agree with.

    The author, a well-known linguist, claims that the three sentences below are about the same in meaning but slightly different.

    1. I believe Tom honest.
    2. I believe Tom to be honost.
    3. I believe that Tom is honest.

    The autor says #1 sounds like my judgement about Tom's character is based on my own direct interaction with him, while #3 is based on indirect info about him. ( #2 is somewhere in between #1 and 3).

    In the case below, I understand there is such difference.

    4. I heard Tom yell at Mike at the scene.
    5. I heard that Tom yelled at Mike at the scene.

    #4 implies my ears caught Tom's yelling, but in #5 I only heard from someone that Tom yelled at Mike.

    However, in the former case, I only sense #1 sounds more bookish and less likely to be used than #3.

    Are they really different as the linguist says?

    Thank you!

    OP


    • Join Date: Apr 2009
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    #2

    Re: Are they really different?

    1. I believe Tom honest.
    2. I believe Tom to be honost.
    3. I believe that Tom is honest.
    I for one agree with you. I think your analysis is spot on, and that the author is...well, wrong.

    My take on the above: Almost nobody would say 1, but if they did it would be interpreted to mean the same as 2 and 3, which are exactly the same in meaning.

    Greg

    P.S. Just out of curiosity...is this well-known linguist a native speaker of English?

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    #3

    Re: Are they really different?

    Quote Originally Posted by optimistic pessimist View Post
    Dear all,

    When I was reading a book on linguistics, I read an explanation I didn't agree with.

    The author, a well-known linguist, claims that the three sentences below are about the same in meaning but slightly different.

    1. I believe Tom honest. This one just omits 'is' or 'to be' before "honest", and I believe it ('is' or 'to be') much less common than 2.and 3.
    2. I believe Tom to be honost.
    3. I believe that Tom is honest.

    To me, 1., 2. and 3. mean the same thing.

    The autor says #1 sounds like my judgement about Tom's character is based on my own direct interaction with him, while #3 is based on indirect info about him. ( #2 is somewhere in between #1 and 3).

    In the case below, I understand there is such difference.

    4. I heard Tom yell at Mike at the scene.
    5. I heard that Tom yelled at Mike at the scene.

    #4 implies my ears caught Tom's yelling, It doesn't imply that; it says that. but in #5 I only heard from someone that Tom yelled at Mike. yes

    However, in the former case, I only sense #1 sounds more bookish and less likely to be used than #3.

    Are they really different as the linguist says?

    Thank you!

    OP
    2006

  1. Raymott's Avatar
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    #4

    Re: Are they really different?

    "they are about the same in meaning but slightly different."

    I don't think it's worth making a case here. I can see how 3. could be taken as being almost exactly the same as, but a smidgeon less direct than 1.
    He possibly wrote it under torture from students demanding to be given a difference.

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    #5

    Re: Are they really different?

    Dragn, 2006, Raymott

    Thank you for your replies.

    Dragn, the linguist is Japanese, but he says if you ask native English speakers, they will say the three sentences are slightly different in meaning as I wrote in my question. I couldn't believe him, so I asked for help. I've got three replies and I'm kind of relieved to know that none of them agree with the linguist.

    I don't know if he learned it in a book written by an English speaker or he did the research by himself. He didn't make clear how he got the idea.

    OP
    Last edited by optimistic pessimist; 23-Sep-2009 at 06:58.


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    #6

    Re: Are they really different?

    Dragn, the linguist is Japanese...
    Actually, the question was fairly rhetorical. I knew.

    This sort of thing is extremely common in books on English written by Chinese people here in Taiwan. Authors routinely take what amount to little more than slight tendencies among native speakers and weave them into obscure "rules" and "principles" that simply do not exist. I suppose they feel it augments their scholarly reputations, and it does seem to sell books to legions of students who are hungry for every last excruciating detail of English to be rendered in academic shades of black and white...the blacker and whiter the better.

    From what I have heard, I have no reason to believe Japan is substantially different.

    Greg

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