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    #1

    people got running water

    I have just read an article about the Islamic State and have problems with this sentence:



    For so long, progress and the decline of faith – what enlightened types prefer to call “superstition” – were thought to be symbiotic if not synonymous. As the world advanced, as more of its people got running water, TV and smartphones, surely the old, primitive beliefs would fade.



    I am not able to comprehand the part "more of its people got running water". Literal meaning does not make any sense to me in the context. Is it a sort of idiomatic structure? Thank you.

  1. Roman55's Avatar
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    #2

    Re: people got running water

    I am not a teacher.

    It is the literal meaning. Running water, TV and smartphones are given as examples of progress.

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    #3

    Re: people got running water

    Hi Roman.

    I have contacted Jonathan via email
    here, but he hasn't replied. Do you think that he might mean having access to safe water, is fit to drink/having water facilities, please?

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    #4

    Re: people got running water

    I am not a teacher.

    Yes, that is what's normally meant by 'running water'. Clean water supplied by a state-run or private service which implies a certain level of (industrial) progress. It's considered preferable to having to walk five miles to the nearest river or waterhole.

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    #5

    Re: people got running water

    "Running water" usually refers to indoor plumbing.

  5. Charlie Bernstein's Avatar
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    #6

    Re: people got running water

    Quote Originally Posted by MikeNewYork View Post
    "Running water" usually refers to indoor plumbing.
    Yep, that's a sign of progress, like the others the writer listed. We say "running" in this sense of "flowing," as through pipes to a faucet. It does not mean "fleeing water" or "people running with water" or "water used by people on the run."

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    #7

    Re: people got running water

    Nevertheless, like the OP, I can't see the relation between running water and religion ('primitive beliefs'). No one says, "I've lost my faith since we got the plumbing on." In that sense, it's a metonym for "civilisation", or something similar, not just a literal phrase.

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    #8

    Re: people got running water

    Are TV and smartphones also "metonyms"? I think the meaning is clearly literal.

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    #9

    Re: people got running water

    No, in the context, it's easy to see how TVs and smartphones can contribute to the spread of rationality (though I would have mentioned the internet). If you can explain how running water washes away 'primitive beliefs', I'll concede that it's not a metonym.

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    #10

    Re: people got running water

    It is simply another sign of progress -- literal progress.

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