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  1. Newbie
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    #1

    One and the Other

    "Unsavory characters from the Terminus Systems occasionally use Maji for forms of cruel sport, dumping slaves, hostages, quarreling shipmates, or even (when bored) vicious animals on the surface. One must kill the other before they will be rescued from the lethal radiation of the giant stars."

    (The text is from Mass Effect in-game description.)

    Given the context and according to my own understanding that "one ... the other" suggests there are only two subjects under discussion, if one must kill the other, there will be only one left to be rescued, then why use "they"?

    Also, "slaves, hostages, quarreling shipmates, or even (when bored) vicious animals" clearly suggests it's very possible that there are more than two subjects under discussion. Why is it appropriate to use the strucutre "one ... the other". Is this a clear indication that the unsavory characters put the victims in pair, so they just kill each other instead of turning it into a chaotic massacre?
    Last edited by Laudator; 11-Dec-2016 at 19:09.

  2. Charlie Bernstein's Avatar
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    #2

    Re: One and the Other

    English speakers and writers often use "they" as a singular pronoun meaning "he or she."

    I don't think of it as standard, but it is natural and common, and lots of teacher do say it's standard.
    Last edited by emsr2d2; 10-Dec-2016 at 21:45. Reason: Fixed minor typo
    I'm not a teacher. I speak American English. I've tutored writing at the University of Southern Maine and have done a good deal of copy editing and writing, occasionally for publication.

  3. Moderator
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    #3

    Re: One and the Other

    Laudator, always state the source and author of any text you quote, please.

  4. Skrej's Avatar
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    #4

    Re: One and the Other

    Quote Originally Posted by Laudator View Post
    Also, "slaves, hostages, quarreling shipmates, or even (when bored) vicious animals" clearly suggests it's very possible that there are more than two subjects under discussion. Why is it appropriate to use the strucutre "one ... the other". Is this a clear indication that the unsavory characters put the victims in pair, so they just kill each other instead of turning it into a chaotic massacre?
    No, but they can't really all fight each other at the same time. Some of them (especially the animals) might work in a cohesive group initially, but as the others are killed off, it'll eventually come down to just the last two, and only the ultimate victor gets rescued. That's what the grammar structure is really referring to - that final fight, since it's the only one that matters (in terms of rescue).

    Many of the fights would be one-on-one anyway, then the victors from each match would pair off again with a new opponent.

    Even chaotic battles with hundreds or thousands of opponents consist of multiple small individual battles - especially if you don't have weapons capable of afflicting multiple targets simultaneously. When it comes to fighting tooth and nail, hand and fist, you're fairly limited in how many opponents you can face at once (despite what you see in the movies).
    Wear short sleeves! Support your right to bare arms!

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    #5

    Re: One and the Other

    Quote Originally Posted by Rover_KE View Post
    Laudator, always state the source and author of any text you quote, please.
    Noted. I'll add the source from now on, thanks. I've already edited the original post and the text is from Mass Effect in-game description.

  6. Editor, UsingEnglish.com
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    #6

    Re: One and the Other

    Quote Originally Posted by Charlie Bernstein View Post
    I don't think of it as standard, but it is natural and common, and lots of teacher do say it's standard.
    I do as it's cleaner and easier than he or she.

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    #7

    Re: One and the Other

    Quote Originally Posted by Tdol View Post
    I do as it's cleaner and easier than he or she.
    If it was good enough for Shakespeare and Jane Austen, it's good enough for me.
    I am not a teacher.

  8. Charlie Bernstein's Avatar
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    #8

    Re: One and the Other

    Quote Originally Posted by Tdol View Post
    I do as it's cleaner and easier than he or she.
    I rest my case!
    I'm not a teacher. I speak American English. I've tutored writing at the University of Southern Maine and have done a good deal of copy editing and writing, occasionally for publication.

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