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  1. Charlie Bernstein's Avatar
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    #21

    Re: it was not, in reality, so distant

    Quote Originally Posted by raymondaliasapollyon View Post
    The original has "any land." Do you find the use of it to refer to "land" to the exclusion of "any" odd in current English?
    No. It's fine. you can say "land" or "any land." They mean the same thing, and they mean today that they meant when Shelley wrote.
    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.

  2. Charlie Bernstein's Avatar
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    #22

    Re: it was not, in reality, so distant

    Quote Originally Posted by raymondaliasapollyon View Post
    The issue is whether the pronoun "it" can refer to a head noun in a "any+Noun" combination excluding the "any."
    Why is that possible in Shelley's sentence but not in the two-sentence dialogue?

    Consider a more parallel expression:
    :
    "We thought we were far from any water, but the humidity showed it was closer than we thought."

    In current English, is the sentence more likely expressed as, "
    We thought we were far from any water, but the humidity showed there
    was some closer than we thought"?
    Both are natural and mean the same thing. The "We thought . . . we thought" is a little redundant in both, but you have the right idea. You "it" and "there was some" both refer to nearby water.
    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. jutfrank's Avatar
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    #23

    Re: it was not, in reality, so distant

    Quote Originally Posted by Charlie Bernstein View Post
    Yes. Raymond used that expression in another thread, and I didn't understand what it meant then, either.
    It wasn't clear to me at first but I get it now. The question raymondaliasapollyon was asking was whether the antecedent of it is land or any land. What role, if any, does the determiner any play in the reference? Is the reference to the whole noun phrase (any land) or only to the head (land), to the exclusion of (i.e., excluding) the determiner.

    By my analysis, (which is purely pragmatic) it doesn't really matter. What matters is what Walton had in mind when he uttered the word it, which was the piece of land that was closest to them, upon which the monster was travelling, whether that piece of land was only imagined or not. The monster could have been riding on ice, yes, (in fact it seems he was) but the idea is that Walton's reaction to the apparition was that it must have been terra firma, or at least it seemed that way to him at the time.

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    #24

    Re: it was not, in reality, so distant

    Quote Originally Posted by Charlie Bernstein View Post
    Both are natural and mean the same thing. The "We thought . . . we thought" is a little redundant in both, but you have the right idea. You "it" and "there was some" both refer to nearby water.
    How about the following?

    Henry did not say he had any land, but Peter found that it was in another city.

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    #25

    Re: it was not, in reality, so distant

    Quote Originally Posted by jutfrank View Post
    It wasn't clear to me at first but I get it now. The question raymondaliasapollyon was asking was whether the antecedent of it is land or any land. What role, if any, does the determiner any play in the reference? Is the reference to the whole noun phrase (any land) or only to the head (land), to the exclusion of (i.e., excluding) the determiner.

    By my analysis, (which is purely pragmatic) it doesn't really matter. What matters is what Walton had in mind when he uttered the word it, which was the piece of land that was closest to them, upon which the monster was travelling, whether that piece of land was only imagined or not. The monster could have been riding on ice, yes, (in fact it seems he was) but the idea is that Walton's reaction to the apparition was that it must have been terra firma, or at least it seemed that way to him at the time.
    I'd have no problem with the original if it were rephrased as follows:

    This appearance excited our unqualified wonder. We were, as we believed, many hundred miles from the nearest land; but this apparition seemed to denote that it was not, in reality, so distant as we had supposed. Shut in, however, by ice, it was impossible to follow his track, which we had observed with the greatest attention.

    The "any" in the original invokes this reading: whatever land existed on Earth was belived to be hundreds of miles away from them. Some conidtions should be met for the pronoun "it" to refer to the quanified phrase. If they were no met, the reference would be unusual at best.

    Consider the following:
    E.g. The teacher decided not to give candy to any of the boys, but he would not be upset.

    Do you find the above normal?

    Cf. Any boy who will not receive candy from the teacher believes he will cry.
    Last edited by raymondaliasapollyon; 10-Jun-2020 at 06:36.

  6. jutfrank's Avatar
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    #26

    Re: it was not, in reality, so distant

    Quote Originally Posted by raymondaliasapollyon View Post
    I'd have no problem with the original if it were rephrased as follows:

    This appearance excited our unqualified wonder. We were, as we believed, many hundred miles from the nearest land; but this apparition seemed to denote that it was not, in reality, so distant as we had supposed.

    Right. That successfully removes the problem, since the nearest land is a definite NP.

    The "any" in the original invokes this reading: whatever land existed on Earth was belived to be hundreds of miles away from them. Some conidtions should be met for the pronoun "it" to refer to the quanified phrase. If they were no met, the reference would be unusual at best.
    As always, I take a pragmatic view. The condition that should be met is the correct interpretation of the reference in the reader's mind. If the reference is not obvious, then you could call it problematic. My judgement is that it is pretty obvious in the context.

    E.g. The teacher decided not to give candy to any of the boys, but he would not be upset.

    Do you find the above normal?
    No, that's incoherent.

    Any boy who will not receive candy from the teacher believes he will cry.
    Yes, that's clear enough. The reference word he refers to any one of the boys.

  7. Charlie Bernstein's Avatar
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    #27

    Re: it was not, in reality, so distant

    Quote Originally Posted by raymondaliasapollyon View Post
    How about the following?

    Henry did not say he had any land, but Peter found that Henry did have some in another city.
    The situation is vague. Does Henry have land? Then the above correction is right.

    Or was Peter looking for land, so he asked Henry whether he had any and found out that he didn't? In that case, I'd say, ". . . but Peter found some in another city."
    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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