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  1. #31
    jutfrank's Avatar
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    Re: the thinker vs a thinker

    Thanks. Well found. You'll notice that the original uses the same articles in the same sequence. I'm not sure what to make of that, but I must say it disturbs me slightly—I think the translator has made a decision to take a direct translation. The thing is, article use in German is not exactly the same as in English. Whether it is in this case is open to question, I feel. Anyway, I don't want to attempt to discuss reference words in German so let's give the translator a pass and proceed as if we'd never seen that ...

    Thoughts are by no means unreal but their reality is of quite a different kind from that of things. And their effect is brought about by an act of the thinker (T1) without which they would be ineffective, at least as far as we can see. And yet the thinker (T2) does not create them but must take them as they are. They can be true without being apprehended by a thinker (T3) and are not wholly unreal even then, at least if they could be apprehended and by this means be brought into operation.

    Q2 is very straightforward, I think we both agree. I presume you'll want to add that the thinker is similarly treated as a role, as with T1. I'll go with that. I don't think there's anything more to say—T1 and T2 have the same reference. Let's move on.

    Before we tackle Q3, may I ask you to phrase the question again, as you see it? Is your question simply about why an indefinite NP is used? Or is it really about why there is a change from definite to indefinite, which you find odd or surprising? Is it that an indefinite NP doesn't make a lot of sense? Or that you feel the writer was trying achieve a certain effect with the transition that you can't identify? Or is it that you can appreciate why an indefinite NP is used, but you're just wondering whether a definite one would be just as good or better? Please tell me again exactly where your question comes from, just so I completely understand where you're at.
    Last edited by jutfrank; 21-Jan-2021 at 01:08.

  2. #32
    Alexey86 is offline Senior Member
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    Re: the thinker vs a thinker

    Quote Originally Posted by jutfrank View Post
    Before we tackle Q3, may I ask you to phrase the question again, as you see it? (1) Is your question simply about why an indefinite NP is used? (2) Or is it really about why there is a change from definite to indefinite, which you find odd or surprising? (3) Is it that an indefinite NP doesn't make a lot of sense? (4) Or that you feel the writer was trying achieve a certain effect with the transition that you can't identify? (5) Or is it that you can appreciate why an indefinite NP is used, but you're just wondering whether a definite one would be just as good or better? Please tell me again exactly where your question comes from, just so I completely understand where you're at.
    It was (2) and (5). But they've already been answered. Since the thinker can't be the thinker of the mentioned thoughts (= thoughts in general), only a thinker makes sense in They (= thoughts in general) can be true without being apprehended by a thinker...
    Would thinkers also make sense?
    Last edited by Alexey86; 21-Jan-2021 at 11:25.
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  3. #33
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    Re: the thinker vs a thinker

    Oh, okay, good.

    After thinking in depth about this, I think my great preference for a thinker in T3 comes from my reading of the entire paragraph as a generalisation. We're talking about thoughts and thinkers in general. If I were translating the text, I'd use a thinker in T1, the thinker (anaphorically) in T2 and a thinker in T3. Or perhaps even better, a general plural thinkers for T3, as you say.

    As to why the text uses the forms that it does, I think there ought to be two separate questions—one concerning Frege himself and one concerning the translator. In future, I'd feel comfortable discussing original native-speaker use only.

  4. #34
    Alexey86 is offline Senior Member
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    Re: the thinker vs a thinker

    Quote Originally Posted by jutfrank View Post
    As to why the text uses the forms that it does, I think there ought to be two separate questions—one concerning Frege himself and one concerning the translator. In future, I'd feel comfortable discussing original native-speaker use only.
    Aside from its article use, does this translation sound non-native to you? I'm asking because I'm going to start a new thread about one passage from it?
    Not a teacher or native speaker

  5. #35
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    Re: the thinker vs a thinker

    Quote Originally Posted by Alexey86 View Post
    does this translation sound non-native to you?
    No, not at all.

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