# Thread: at a zero-to-eighteen-month level of a typical development (article use)

1. ## Re: at a zero-to-eighteen-month level of a typical development (article use)

Originally Posted by Alexey86
I really don't understand how there can be more than one such level. There're many levels within the scope of typical development: 0-18 month level, 0-6 month, 9-12 month, etc., etc. But each possible level seems unique to me. How should I think about these levels so that I can see their multiplicity?
Well, the way that I'm trying to suggest to you involves abandoning the idea of classification. Forget about sets and subsets, and levels within levels. That way of thinking is leading you into a logical regress. Instead of thinking about levels within levels, try thinking of different instantiations of one level. This involves thinking less mathematically and more imaginatively.

There is only one 0-18 month level but there are many instances of it.

My point with the Ferrari was also to show that there are very natural and very normal ways of using indefinite noun phrases that do not involve thinking in terms of classification. Like I said, your diagram does not represent the thought I had in mind concerning the Ferrari. I was using the descriptor nice as a predicate, not as a type. I didn't mean to say that there are nice Ferraris and non-nice Ferraris. My utterance was equivalent in meaning to That Ferrari is nice.

2. ## Re: at a zero-to-eighteen-month level of a typical development (article use)

Originally Posted by jutfrank
Well, the way that I'm trying to suggest to you involves abandoning the idea of classification.
May I ask you how many article errors you usually notice in my texts? I'm asking because I've always used the classifying approach so far.

Originally Posted by jutfrank
try thinking of different instantiations of one level. This involves thinking less mathematically and more imaginatively.
Is the following comparison correct?
1) Water boils at a 100-degree temperature = a temperature of 100 degrees = an instance of temperature equal to 100 degrees.
2) This child is at a 0-18-month level of typical development = a level of development typical for a 0-18-month child = an instance of a developmental level typical for a 0-18-month child.

Originally Posted by jutfrank
I was using the descriptor nice as a predicate, not as a type.
Why do you think nice as a predicate can't be typifying?

Originally Posted by jutfrank
I didn't mean to say that there are nice Ferraris and non-nice Ferraris. My utterance was equivalent in meaning to That Ferrari is nice.
Do you mean That's a nice Ferrari and Th
at Ferrari is nice are equal in meaning? To me, these two answer different questions: What object is that? vs What Ferrari is that?

3. ## Re: at a zero-to-eighteen-month level of a typical development (article use)

Originally Posted by Alexey86
May I ask you how many article errors you usually notice in my texts? I'm asking because I've always used the classifying approach so far.

Very few, if any.

Is the following comparison correct?
1) Water boils at a 100-degree temperature = a temperature of 100 degrees = an instance of temperature equal to 100 degrees.
2) This child is at a 0-18-month level of typical development = a level of development typical for a 0-18-month child = an instance of a developmental level typical for a 0-18-month child.
Number 2 works (similarly to what we've been discussing. 2 doesn't sound natural so I don't want to comment on it.

Why do you think nice as a predicate can't be typifying?
It's not that I think it, I know it. I know it because I said it and I know what I meant.

Do you mean That's a nice Ferrari and That Ferrari is nice are equal in meaning?

Yes, that's exactly my point. At least, that's what I meant.

To me, these two answer different questions: What object is that? vs What Ferrari is that?

Don't think of my utterance as answering any questions. I meant it merely as a comment to show my appreciation of the Ferrari. It wasn't meant to impart any information, which I think is how you're interpreting it.

4. ## Re: at a zero-to-eighteen-month level of a typical development (article use)

Originally Posted by jutfrank
Very few, if any.
Isn't that strange, given the imperfection of my approach?

Originally Posted by jutfrank
Number 2 works (similarly to what we've been discussing. 2 doesn't sound natural so I don't want to comment on it.
I'm trying the way of thinking you suggest. Am I on the right track?

Originally Posted by jutfrank
It's not that I think it, I know it. I know it because I said it and I know what I meant.

I didn't mean to contrast your thoughts with your knowledge. That's just a common expression.

Originally Posted by jutfrank
Don't think of my utterance as answering any questions. I meant it merely as a comment to show my appreciation of the Ferrari. It wasn't meant to impart any information, which I think is how you're interpreting it.

OK, I see two possible readings of That's a nice Ferrari:
1) That object is a nice Ferarri.
2) That Ferarri is a nice Ferrari.

Pragmatically, the latter is equal in meaning to That Ferarri is nice. But logically, they are not the same. That Ferrari is nice doesn't establish a set, while That's a nice Ferrari does because the indefinite article implies the possibility of more than one nice Ferrari.
So, it's not you, it's the indefinite article that imparts this additional set-related information in your utterance despite the fact it was never your intention.

5. ## Re: at a zero-to-eighteen-month level of a typical development (article use)

Originally Posted by Alexey86
. . . OK, I see two possible readings of That's a nice Ferrari:
1) That object is a nice Ferarri.
2) That Ferarri is a nice Ferrari.
Actually, there are three possible readings. Neither 1 nor 2 expresses the real intent of "That's a nice Ferrari." You're being much too literal. It's not comparing (1) it to other objects or (2) other Ferraris.

It's a simple expression of appreciation. It just means is that you like that Ferrari.

6. ## Re: at a zero-to-eighteen-month level of a typical development (article use)

Originally Posted by Charlie Bernstein
It's a simple expression of appreciation. It just means is that you like that Ferrari.
Articles always have their specific functions and do their specific job whenever we use them. The indefinite article's job is to establish a set of more than one possible object with a given characteristic (nice, American, yellow, etc.). Don't you agree with that?

7. ## Re: at a zero-to-eighteen-month level of a typical development (article use)

Originally Posted by Alexey86
So, it's not you, it's the indefinite article that imparts this additional set-related information in your utterance despite the fact it was never your intention.
But it doesn't. You are trying to apply rules of formal logic to language. Languages are not logical. We give (usually) the message we intend to, and the listener (usually, but not quite so often) receives the message we intended to give.

This is why some native speakers may shudder at such utterances as "No, I ain't (= haven't) done nothing" but, in the context of somebody clearly protesting innocence, nobody will actually think that it means "I did not do nothing". Common sense trumps logic 99% of the time,

8. ## Re: at a zero-to-eighteen-month level of a typical development (article use)

Originally Posted by Piscean
Common sense trumps logic 99% of the time
Unfortunately, common sense is too vague a concept for me to use.

9. ## Re: at a zero-to-eighteen-month level of a typical development (article use)

So I've noticed.

10. ## Re: at a zero-to-eighteen-month level of a typical development (article use)

Originally Posted by Alexey86
Unfortunately, common sense is too vague a concept for me to use.
You will never truly master a language by learning rules and applying logic. Those methods can get you most of the way to mastery, but in the end, you have to allow yourself to absorb it through exposure. Clinging to a rule- and logic-based approach will impede your learning and prevent you from achieving true fluency.

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