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  1. #1
    Kazuo is offline Member
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    Bach's son, ...

    Hello!

    In London he met Bach's son, Christian, who was music-master to Queen Charlotte.

    Does the sentence imply that Bach had only one son?

    Thanks in advance

  2. #2
    Raymott's Avatar
    Raymott is offline VIP Member
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    Re: Bach's son, ...

    Quote Originally Posted by Kazuo View Post
    Hello!

    In London he met Bach's son, Christian, who was music-master to Queen Charlotte.

    Does the sentence imply that Bach had only one son?

    Thanks in advance
    No, context tells us that all the Bachs bred like rabbits. So it means the son of [J.S.] Bach who was called Christian.
    You could change it to: "In London he met Bach's son Christian,..." but history renders it unnecessary.

  3. #3
    SoothingDave is offline VIP Member
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    Re: Bach's son, ...

    Not a teacher.

    Context tells us nothing here except that Bach had at least one son. I could have one son or twelve and I could still refer to my son, Christian.

  4. #4
    Abstract Idea is offline Key Member
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    Re: Bach's son, ...

    Quote Originally Posted by SoothingDave View Post
    Not a teacher.

    Context tells us nothing here except that Bach had at least one son. I could have one son or twelve and I could still refer to my son, Christian.
    I guess what Raymott means by context here is the whole context of Human History.
    That is, usually whenever one hears the name Bach, one recalls the famous family of musicians (exactly that one you are thinking about, which bred like rabbits).

  5. #5
    Abstract Idea is offline Key Member
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    Re: Bach's son, ...

    What if we changed it to

    In London he met Doe's son, John, who was a great musician.


    Does it imply now that Doe had only one son, namely, John ?
    Although now it is more likely, still I don't think so.

    For me it is clear that even in this non-contextualized version Mr. Doe may have more than one son.

  6. #6
    Raymott's Avatar
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    Re: Bach's son, ...

    Quote Originally Posted by ymnisky View Post
    I guess what Raymott means by context here is the whole context of Human History.
    That is, usually whenever one hears the name Bach, one recalls the famous family of musicians (exactly that one you are thinking about, which bred like rabbits).
    That's right. I mean the context of a man called Bach whose son Christian was music-master to Queen Charlotte identifies the Bach in question as being J. S. Bach, the famous German musician.
    Naturally, if you've never heard of these Bachs, you wouldn't have the necessary context.

    In any case, excluding such context, the sentence doesn't imply that Bach had only one son.




  7. #7
    Tdol is offline Editor, UsingEnglish.com
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    Re: Bach's son, ...

    I think it would be better without the commas, which to me do imply (wrongly) that he had one son.

  8. #8
    TheParser is offline VIP Member
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    Re: Bach's son, ...

    Quote Originally Posted by Kazuo View Post
    Hello!

    In London he met Bach's son, Christian, who was music-master to Queen Charlotte.

    Does the sentence imply that Bach had only one son?

    Thanks in advance
    ***** NOT A TEACHER *****

    Hello, Kazuo.

    (1) As some other posters have said, the rule is very clear:

    As written, it means that the person had only one son.

    (2) That is why many teachers try to explain to their students that

    that the following sentence is "wrong":

    Mr. Smith's wife Pamela is a physician. (This might be correct only

    in a country where men are allowed more than one wife at a time.)

    (2) English learners come to this website because they want to learn

    the "rules." I think that the majority of them appreciate knowing that

    the rule followed by you is correct and most helpful:

    My sister, Mary, got married. = I have one sister. "Mary" is strictly

    extra information.

    My sister Mary got married. = It was my sister Mary, not my sister Mona.

    ***** Thank you for your question *****

  9. #9
    Raymott's Avatar
    Raymott is offline VIP Member
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    Re: Bach's son, ...

    Quote Originally Posted by TheParser View Post
    ***** NOT A TEACHER *****

    Hello, Kazuo.

    (1) As some other posters have said, the rule is very clear:

    As written, it means that the person had only one son.

    (2) That is why many teachers try to explain to their students that

    that the following sentence is "wrong":

    Mr. Smith's wife Pamela is a physician. (This might be correct only

    in a country where men are allowed more than one wife at a time.)

    (2) English learners come to this website because they want to learn

    the "rules." I think that the majority of them appreciate knowing that

    the rule followed by you is correct and most helpful:

    My sister, Mary, got married. = I have one sister. "Mary" is strictly

    extra information.

    My sister Mary got married. = It was my sister Mary, not my sister Mona.

    ***** Thank you for your question *****
    I'll explain a bit further. Your rules are basically right.
    If Bach has only one son, you write, "I met Bach's son, Christian."
    If Bach has more than one son, you write, "I met Bach's son Christian."

    However, if you do not know how many sons Bach has (and we've decided not to cheat by revealing that we know the historical context), you still have to write it with or without a comma.

    How do your rules help now?

    In this context, where the information is not known, and you have knowledge of only one of Bach's sons, it's more reasonable only to assume the one son you know of: "I met Bach's son, Christian."
    Under your strict rules, you have to take a 50:50 chance of making a serious grammatical blunder. I'm merely asserting that, in such a case, a comma does not rule out that Bach has other sons.

  10. #10
    Kazuo is offline Member
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    Re: Bach's son, ...

    Hello, Teachers!

    1. The sentence in question is from a biography of Mozart. Whenever I come to that point, I stop, thinking Bach must have had many children. The thread was posted to dissolve this feeling of “stop”.
    2. I have never known the role of “commas” as explained this time. Now I’m pleased to know its role.

    Thank you very much

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