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  1. #1
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    The past is a foreign country

    The past is a foreign country: they do things differently there.
    What is imply with "the past" word?

  2. #2
    euncu's Avatar
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    Re: The past is a foreign country

    ***neither a teacher nor a native-speaker***

    Maybe the speaker is on a ship, and the ship has just passed by (or moved past) the shores of a country.

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    Re: The past is a foreign country

    Thank you but he is not on a ship. He is at home and he remembers old days.

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    Re: The past is a foreign country

    Quote Originally Posted by gemini View Post
    they do things differently there.
    Quote Originally Posted by gemini View Post
    Thank you but he is not on a ship. He is at home and he remembers old days.
    I had ruled out that option because the speaker wasn't saying "They did things..." or "They used to do...".

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    Re: The past is a foreign country

    He is using a metaphor. The changes between how things were done then and how things are done now have made things as different as if it were two lands of different cultures instead of the same land with changing times.
    I'm not a teacher, but I write for a living. Please don't ask me about 2nd conditionals, but I'm a safe bet for what reads well in (American) English.

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    euncu's Avatar
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    Re: The past is a foreign country

    Quote Originally Posted by Barb_D View Post
    He is using a metaphor. The changes between how things were done then and how things are done now are as different as if it were two lands of different cultures.
    Since there is no ship, switching to the first possible explanation makes sence. If I had heard only the first part, that is, The past is a foreign country, I definitely would have thought similar to what you said. But the second part was, as I said on my previous post, what made me change my mind and so I came up with a second explanation.

    I'd be happy if you commented on whether the use of present tense for the second part is correct or not.

  7. #7
    TheParser is offline VIP Member
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    Re: The past is a foreign country

    Quote Originally Posted by gemini View Post
    The past is a foreign country: they do things differently there.
    What is imply with "the past" word?
    ********** NOT A TEACHER **********

    Hello, Gemini.

    (1) Your quotation means a lot to me.

    (2) I am an old man.

    (3) I was a young man in the 1950's ("the past").

    (4) When I compare the world today (including my own

    country) with the past, I can assure you that the past is

    a foreign (different) country (place). When I return in

    my daydreams to the 1950's, they truly do things

    differently there. The names of places remain the same, but

    how things have changed!!!

    (5) I am guessing that you are a young person. Perhaps in

    the year 2060, you will look at the world (including your own

    country) and sigh: "The past ...."

    Thank you

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    Re: The past is a foreign country

    euncu, I think the "there" is just continuing the metaphor.
    I'm not a teacher, but I write for a living. Please don't ask me about 2nd conditionals, but I'm a safe bet for what reads well in (American) English.

  9. #9
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    Re: The past is a foreign country

    Quote Originally Posted by euncu View Post
    I had ruled out that option because the speaker wasn't saying "They did things..." or "They used to do...".
    Quote Originally Posted by Barb_D View Post
    euncu, I think the "there" is just continuing the metaphor.
    My problem wasn't "there" as I stated on my post I quoted above. The tense of "do". If I wasn't clear enough to express what I meant to say on my previous posts, I'll start thinking that English is really not my cup of tea.

  10. #10
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    Re: The past is a foreign country

    Quote Originally Posted by euncu View Post
    My problem wasn't "there" as I stated on my post I quoted above. The tense of "do". If I wasn't clear enough to express what I meant to say on my previous posts, I'll start thinking that English is really not my cup of tea.
    I think he only used "they do things differently there", instead of "did", because he is likening the past to a foreign country which exists now. Even though, obviously, the past is in the past (!), his metaphor would use the present.

    France is a different country. They do things differently there. This of course, is true now. He is treating the past as if it still exists and uses the present tense accordingly. (Some people, of course, believe that time is not linear and that the past, the present and the future all exist at the same time.)

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