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  1. Newbie
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    #1

    former Berlin Wall/ former Soviet Union

    Its located directly on the famous Friedrichstrasse, between „Nordbahnhof“ station and Grand Central and close to where the former wall divided East and West Berlin until 1989.
    former has the following meanings:
    1. preceding in time; prior or earlier:during a former stage in the proceedings.
    2. past, long past, or ancient:in former times.
    3. preceding in order; being the first of two:Our former manufacturing process was too costly.
    4. being the first mentioned of two (distinguished from latter):The former suggestion was preferred to the latter.
    5. having once, or previously, been; erstwhile:a former president.
    In my understanding, the (1) indicates something that existed pasted and does not exist now, and the (5) indicates something that had the property and now still exist but does not have the property anymore.
    Back to my example, I don't what is the meaning of the former in "former Berlin Wall", and the former in "former
    Soviet Union"?
    Thank you!


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    #2

    Re: former Berlin Wall/ former Soviet Union

    Typoman - writer of rongs

  3. Tarheel's Avatar
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    #3

    Re: former Berlin Wall/ former Soviet Union

    Quote Originally Posted by LevyLi View Post
    It's located directly on the famous Friedrichstrasse, between „Nordbahnhof“ station and Grand Central and close to where the former wall divided East and West Berlin until 1989.The word "former" has the following meanings:1. preceding in time; prior or earlier:during a former stage in the proceedings.
    2. past, long past, or ancient:in former times.
    3. preceding in order; being the first of two:Our former manufacturing process was too costly.
    4. being the first mentioned of two (distinguished from latter):The former suggestion was preferred to the latter.
    5. having once, or previously, been; erstwhile:a former president.
    In my understanding, the (1) indicates something that existed pasted and does not exist now, and the (5) indicates something that had the property and now still exist but does not have the property anymore.
    Back to my example, I don't what is the meaning of the "former" in "former Berlin Wall", or "former" in "former
    Soviet Union".

    It's called the former Berlin wall because it doesn't exist anymore. Also, it's called the former Soviet Union because it doesn't exist anymore.

    The Berlin Wall divided East and West Berlin.

    Were you around when the wall came down?
    Last edited by Tarheel; 19-Sep-2020 at 15:11. Reason: Make additional corrections to quote
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  4. Tarheel's Avatar
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    #4

    Re: former Berlin Wall/ former Soviet Union

    The more I think about it the more I think you don't need "former" there. (We don't call them the "former" British Empire or the "former" Roman Empire.)

    If you were giving some people a tour of the site you wouldn't say, "This is where the former Berlin Wall stood." You would say, "This is where the Berlin Wall stood."
    Last edited by Tarheel; 19-Sep-2020 at 15:36. Reason: Replaced "want" with "need". (Thanks, GS!)
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  5. Charlie Bernstein's Avatar
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    #5

    Re: former Berlin Wall/ former Soviet Union

    I'd accept "former Soviet Union" but not "former Berlin Wall."

    The real estate once called the Soviet Union now has other names. It was formerly called the Soviet Union, but now it's not. So former isn't wrong. But, as Tarheel says, it's unnecessary.

    The wall in Berlin was sensibly called the Berlin Wall. It was not renamed. It was still called that when it was torn down. It was always called the Berlin Wall and always will be. So "former Berlin Wall" doesn't make sense.
    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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    #6

    Re: former Berlin Wall/ former Soviet Union

    Charlie and I do not disagree. (I've used "former Soviet Union" myself.)

    But Ron, aren't you contradicting yourself?

    No, I'm not. When you say "the former Soviet Union" you are (consciously or unconsciously) emphasizing that it no longer exists. Otherwise, we can simply speak of it in the past tense. Example:

    In the Soviet Union they used to have a saying, which went: "We pretend to work, and they pretend to pay us."
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  7. Editor, UsingEnglish.com
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    #7

    Re: former Berlin Wall/ former Soviet Union

    And some who lament the end of the Soviet Union and would try to recreate it, at least in part, call it the former Soviet Union.

  8. jutfrank's Avatar
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    #8

    Re: former Berlin Wall/ former Soviet Union

    I don't see any problem whatsoever with the word former in this context. In fact, I think the sentence is much better with it, since it makes clear that the wall no longer exists in that particular area.

    Quote Originally Posted by Charlie Bernstein View Post
    The wall in Berlin was sensibly called the Berlin Wall. It was not renamed. It was still called that when it was torn down. It was always called the Berlin Wall and always will be. So "former Berlin Wall" doesn't make sense.
    I totally disagree. It makes a lot of sense to me.

    Firstly, the former wall (no mention of Berlin) serves to make it clear that the wall no longer exists there.

    Secondly, the word former does not refer here to the name, as you seem to suggest. This is nothing to do with a change of names. It's to do with a change of state. The Berlin wall was much more than a mere physical object. It was a border between not only sovereign states, but also ideological states. The wall as a purely physical object continued to exist for many years, but as a political object ceased to exist in November 1989.

  9. Charlie Bernstein's Avatar
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    #9

    Re: former Berlin Wall/ former Soviet Union

    Quote Originally Posted by Tdol View Post
    And some who lament the end of the Soviet Union and would try to recreate it, at least in part, call it the former Soviet Union.
    Yes. And it's useful this way: She lives in Georgia, a country in the former Soviet Union.
    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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    #10

    Re: former Berlin Wall/ former Soviet Union

    Quote Originally Posted by jutfrank View Post
    I don't see any problem whatsoever with the word former in this context. In fact, I think the sentence is much better with it, since it makes clear that the wall no longer exists in that particular area.



    I totally disagree. It makes a lot of sense to me.

    Firstly, the former wall (no mention of Berlin) serves to make it clear that the wall no longer exists there.

    Secondly, the word former does not refer here to the name, as you seem to suggest. This is nothing to do with a change of names. It's to do with a change of state. The Berlin wall was much more than a mere physical object. It was a border between not only sovereign states, but also ideological states. The wall as a purely physical object continued to exist for many years, but as a political object ceased to exist in November 1989.
    Could be. To me it implies that there's a current Berlin Wall or a wall that used be called the Berlin Wall and has a new name now.

    It's like "the artist formerly known as Prince." If he hadn't gotten rid of his former name, it wouldn't make sense. We wouldn't say "the actor formerly known as Sir Lawrence Olivier."
    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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