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    #1

    to give (a) new life to something

    Hello! What is the difference in meaning between "to give new life" and "to give a new life"? Here are some examples:

    https://ludwig.guru/s/gave+a+new+life

    1) ..."They used to be incinerated or disposed of in a landfill". Using the material on the Finnish pavilion gave a new life to 18 tons of former label waste, he said. Recycling plastics is also a theme for the Shanghai Corporate…

    2) The architect Frank Lloyd Wright gave a new life to space; George Gershwin, Louis Armstrong and Duke Ellington elevated jazz to an art form; Eugene O'Neill shattered shibboleths onstage and Ernest Hemingway showed writers how much could be added by what he left out.

    3) ...If writers were good at cost accounting, they would probably never start a book. Now "The Mapmakers" is being given a new life. A revised edition, expanded to include new scholarship in the history of cartography and...


    https://ludwig.guru/s/gave+new+life

    4) ...Christy Mathewson's "Pitching in a Pinch" and Sol White's "History of Colored Baseball". Ross "gave new life to classic books," Taylor said. "All of that baseball history was in danger of disappearing from bookshelves". ...

    5) ...involving women's health care and Medicare — were not put to a vote until Thursday. The debate gave new life to overheated claims and misrepresentations. MAMMOGRAMS AND THE MYTH OF RATIONING The battle over women's health care emerged...

    6) ...floor debate without knowing what sort of proposals would be considered. This cynical tactic gave new life to the Republican effort to repeal Obamacare. The subsequent votes then represented an important victory for everybody…
    Last edited by Alexey86; 18-Feb-2020 at 20:09. Reason: to change the numbering of the examples
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  2. jutfrank's Avatar
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    #2

    Re: to give (a) new life to something

    In the phrases without the indefinite article, life is an uncountable noun whereas in the phrases with the indefinite article, life is a countable noun.

    You sense the semantic difference between life as a general (uncountable) concept and life as a discrete (countable) concept, right? You can make the same distinction here.

    Our use of uncountable and countable nouns reveals the two fundamental ways that we understand substance. We can understand the world either as consisting of 'stuff' or as consisting of 'things'. This is the case not only for physical matter, like water and pebbles, but also for abstractions, such as life and lives.

    I don't know if you're looking for an answer that relates more specifically to the examples you've given but it's useful to understand the very basic difference first. The challenge here is to answer why the writer may have chosen one view over the other. You need to understand the basic difference I've outlined above in order to answer this question.
    Last edited by jutfrank; 18-Feb-2020 at 20:17.

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    #3

    Re: to give (a) new life to something

    Can we reformulate "to give a new life" into "to give a new/different way of living" and "to give life" into "to make something alive again = to reanimate it (literally or metaphorically)" respectively?
    Last edited by Alexey86; 18-Feb-2020 at 20:24.
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  4. jutfrank's Avatar
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    #4

    Re: to give (a) new life to something

    Quote Originally Posted by Alexey86 View Post
    Can we reformulate "to give a new life" into "to give a new/different way of living" and "to give life" into "to make something alive (literally or metaphorically)" respectively?
    Yes, I think that's reasonable.

    To follow the idea above about different kinds of substance, you could apply these analogies:

    With the uncountable uses, one might imagine a syringe full of 'life stuff', which is injected into the object, with an effect of invigoration.

    With the countable uses, one might imagine God giving a new existence to a dead (or near dead) entity. It could well be that this new existence takes on a new form. I think this is what you mean when you say "a new way of living". I think I prefer to think of it as 'new existence' but we're essentially thinking in the same way.

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    #5

    Re: to give (a) new life to something

    But it wouldn't be grammatically incorrect to use "life" and "a life" in 1-3 and 4-6 interchangeably. It's just a matter of style and author's conceptualization of "life", right?

    BTW, in #3 I meant "to give new life". That's why I wrote, "to make something alive again = to reanimate it."
    Last edited by Alexey86; 18-Feb-2020 at 20:42.
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    #6

    Re: to give (a) new life to something

    Quote Originally Posted by Alexey86 View Post
    But it wouldn't be grammatically incorrect to use "life" and "a life" in 1-3 and 4-6 interchangeably. It's just a matter of style and author's conceptualization of "life", right?
    I would appreciate it if somebody replied to this comment.
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  7. jutfrank's Avatar
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    #7

    Re: to give (a) new life to something

    It's really not a question of what's grammatically correct. Both forms are grammatical. The difference is one of meaning.

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    #8

    Re: to give (a) new life to something

    I'll reformulate my question. Is meaning just up to the speaker in this case? Would it be sound strange or illogical to you if the speaker used "life" and "a life" interchangeably in 1-3 and 4-6?
    Last edited by Alexey86; 19-Feb-2020 at 17:52.
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    #9

    Re: to give (a) new life to something

    The meanings match the contexts, so no, they're not interchangeable.

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    #10

    Re: to give (a) new life to something

    Let's compare (3), "If writers were good at cost accounting, they would probably never start a book. Now "The Mapmakers" is being given a new life. A revised edition, expanded to include new scholarship in the history of cartography and..." with (4), "Christy Mathewson's "Pitching in a Pinch" and Sol White's "History of Colored Baseball". Ross "gave new life to classic books," Taylor said. "All of that baseball history was in danger of disappearing from bookshelves."

    What does exactly determine the difference in article usage?
    Last edited by Alexey86; 19-Feb-2020 at 18:28. Reason: reformulation
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