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  1. #31
    Charlie Bernstein's Avatar
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    Re: the choice of car vs the choice of a car

    Quote Originally Posted by Alexey86 View Post
    I would appreciate it if other members would participate in the thread.
    Sorry. I have absolutely no idea what you're going on about. But I can say this:

    "The color of the car you drive says a lot" is about you. It's about the car you actually drive. Whether or not I've ever seen it, I believe that it provides an insight into your personality.

    "The color of car you drive says a lot" is about anyone who owns a car. It's a much more blanket statement. It means that, in general, the color of a person's car says something about that person.

    I think that's all been said above, and I don't know whether it sheds any light on whatever it is you're trying to figure out. You should probably get back to dickering with Jut. Jut is good at it.

    (Personally, I just buy whatever I can afford. I've had dozens of cars, and I've never chosen one for its color. And that should tell you a few things about me!)
    Last edited by Charlie Bernstein; 10-May-2021 at 00:50.
    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. #32
    GoesStation is online now Moderator
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    Re: the choice of car vs the choice of a car

    I once found and bought a car when I was in a nearby city on business. When I told my wife about it, she asked what color it was. I said "Uh, well car colored?" I've made it a practice to buy only car-colored cars ever since.
    I am not a teacher.

  3. #33
    Alexey86 is offline Senior Member
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    Re: the choice of car vs the choice of a car

    Quote Originally Posted by Charlie Bernstein View Post
    "The color of the car you drive says a lot" is about you. It's about the car you actually drive. Whether or not I've ever seen it, I believe that it provides an insight into your personality.
    The pronoun you can be general/non-referring = anyone or referring to a particular person. Let's take You should be careful on the road. If this statement is addressed to a particular person, you is referring. But if it's just a sign, you is non-referring and means anyone.

    The color of the car you drive says a lot about you would also be a general statement with you meaning anyone if you saw it on a poster.

    How would it differ from The color of car you drive says a lot about you, then?

    Quote Originally Posted by Charlie Bernstein View Post
    "The color of car you drive says a lot" is about anyone who owns a car. It's a much more blanket statement. It means that, in general, the color of a person's car says something about that person.
    Is the price of car also possible?

    Quote Originally Posted by Charlie Bernstein View Post
    I don't know whether it sheds any light on whatever it is you're trying to figure out.
    It does, really.
    Last edited by emsr2d2; 11-May-2021 at 13:44. Reason: Fixed typo
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  4. #34
    Charlie Bernstein's Avatar
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    Re: the choice of car vs the choice of a car

    Quote Originally Posted by Alexey86 View Post
    . . . Is the price of car also possible? . . .
    I don't know. Maybe. But if a car has a price, it's for sale. So it implies that the car hasn't been sold yet.

    More likely:

    - What you paid for a car . . . . / What you paid for your car. . . .

    - What a car cost . . . . / What your car cost . . . .
    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.

  5. #35
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    Re: the choice of car vs the choice of a car

    Quote Originally Posted by Alexey86 View Post
    Is the price of car also possible?
    Good question. I say yes. It fits alongside the other examples we've been discussing. It might not be very natural, but I think it can be analysed (semantically) in the same way as with the other 'category' words. The lack of article means there's no reference. The word car modifies the sense of price.

  6. #36
    Alexey86 is offline Senior Member
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    Re: the choice of car vs the choice of a car

    Quote Originally Posted by jutfrank View Post
    Good question. I say yes. It fits alongside the other examples we've been discussing. It might not be very natural, but I think it can be analysed (semantically) in the same way as with the other 'category' words. The lack of article means there's no reference. The word car modifies the sense of price.
    I don't quite understand what you mean by category words. Let's take a) kind/type, b) cost/colour and c) door/wheel.

    To me, b) is a way more closer to c) than to a) because the former are not features of a car, while (b-c) are. They are separate units semantically and objectively, while kind/type are not. And that's the reason I wouldn't say a door of car. We can say a colour/door/wheel are features or components of a car, but we can't say a kind is a feature of a car. Kind of car is a whole indivisible semantic unit.

    That's why colour/size/cost of car sound so odd to me.

    Quote Originally Posted by jutfrank View Post
    The lack of article means there's no reference. The word car modifies the sense of price.
    But you drive modifies car, not the colour of car, right? Because we don't drive cars' colours. So car is semantically separate from the colour, which, again, is not the case with the type of car because we do drive types of cars. I can't understand why then that modifier doesn't make car definite.

    I just can't tell the difference between two general statements with you meaning anyone:

    The colour of the car you drive says a lot about you.
    The colour of car you drive says a lot about you.


    Last edited by Alexey86; 11-May-2021 at 17:28.
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  7. #37
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    Re: the choice of car vs the choice of a car

    Quote Originally Posted by Alexey86 View Post
    I don't quite understand what you mean by category words. Let's take a) kind/type, b) cost/colour and c) door/wheel.

    To me, b) is a way more closer to c) than to a) because the former are not features of a car, while (b-c) are. They are separate units semantically and objectively, while kind/type are not. And that's the reason I wouldn't say a door of car. We can say a colour/door/wheel are features or components of a car, but we can't say a kind is a feature of a car. Kind of car is a whole indivisible semantic unit.
    Hmm. I think I've explained what I mean very badly again. Let me try a completely different approach.

    Think about compound nouns. For example, this:

    car door

    I'm suggesting that the word car does not 'refer' to any car that exists either in the real world, or in the mind. That's what I mean when I say it has 'no reference'. All it does is categorise the kind of door (the function it has, the form it has, the 'type' it is) that we're talking about. It isn't a bedroom door or a garage door or a patio door.

    Similarly, with the compound noun nail polish colour, the modifying phrase nail polish doesn't refer to any nail polish. It's just a way of determining which 'kind' of colour we're talking about. If I ask you what your favourite nail polish colour is, you might respond 'Ruby Tuesday, by Max Factor'.

    Well, I see the pattern X of NP (where NP is a noun phrase with a zero article) to mean that of NP signifies a kind of X. In other words:

    colour of car = car colour
    size of shoe = shoe size
    flavour of ice cream = ice cream flavour


    Does that make sense? Whether you agree or not, do you follow what I mean?



    But you drive modifies car, not the colour of car, right? Because we don't drive cars' colours.
    Yes.

    So car is semantically separate from the colour, which, again, is not the case with the type of car because we do drive types of cars.
    But we don't drive types of cars. We drive cars, not types. We drive cars of certain types.

    I can't understand why then that modifier doesn't make car definite.
    This is very tricky because I agree that the modifier you drive does make car definite to some extent. That's what defining relative clauses do—they 'define' (make definite) the NPs they modify. But I think I want to say that although car you drive is definite, the wider NP colour of car you drive is not definite. Honestly, I think this is very confusing and I'd rather keep things as simple as possible. Can we focus only on what I've said above about car colour = colour of car for the time being at least. I want to know if what I'm saying makes sense. Thanks.

    I just can't tell the difference between two general statements with you meaning anyone:

    The colour of the car you drive says a lot about you.
    The colour of car you drive says a lot about you.
    I'd parse it like this:

    a) The colour of the car you drive
    b) The colour of car you drive

    I don't know if that helps. The idea is that in a) the bold NP has reference to an actual car, and you drive defines which actual car I'm talking about, whereas in b) the PP of car tells us which kind of colour we're talking about.

    So with this view, b) doesn't actually make sense because you can't drive a colour. Another way of phrasing b) is: The car colour you drive.

    I'm not sure why b) seems to make sense, however. I think it's because we'd naturally interpret it to mean The colour of car [of the car] you drive.

    That's the best way I have of understanding it, anyway.

  8. #38
    Alexey86 is offline Senior Member
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    Re: the choice of car vs the choice of a car

    Quote Originally Posted by jutfrank View Post
    Does that make sense? Whether you agree or not, do you follow what I mean?
    I think I follow you. But... while car door and car colour are similar in being non-referential kinds of things, a difference appears when we reformulate them:
    car colour = kind of colour = colour of car
    car door = kind of door = door of car (?) Door of a car would be a thing, not a kind, right?

    You say this is because colour is somewhat different from door, i.e. it's a category word. It's still not clear to me what you mean by that, given that car door and car colour are both mean categories.

    Quote Originally Posted by jutfrank View Post
    But we don't drive types of cars. We drive cars, not types. We drive cars of certain types.
    Believe it or not, I knew you would say that. Yes, literally speaking we can't drive types. It's a metonymy. Every car is of some kind.

    a) What kind of car you drive? = b) Of what kind is the car you drive?

    The
    car
    is still there in a); it's just hidden under the kind of car.

    So, The kind of car you drive says a lot about you = The car you drive says a lot about you.

    But if we apply this method to colour, the result would either make no sense (1) or be irrelevant (2):

    1) The colour of car you drive says a lot about you = The colour you drive says a lot about you.
    2) The colour of car you drive says a lot about you = The car you drive says a lot about you.

    Quote Originally Posted by jutfrank View Post
    But I think I want to say that although car you drive is definite, the wider NP colour of car you drive is not definite.
    Not definite? Isn't it the colour of car?

    Quote Originally Posted by jutfrank View Post
    Can we focus only on what I've said above about car colour = colour of car for the time being at least. I want to know if what I'm saying makes sense. Thanks.
    Maybe it would sound funny, but your explanation does make sense, although, I don't fully understand it.

    Quote Originally Posted by jutfrank View Post
    a) The colour of the car you drive
    b) The colour of car you drive

    I don't know if that helps. The idea is that in a) the bold NP has reference to an actual car, and you drive defines which actual car I'm talking about, whereas in b) the PP of car tells us which kind of colour we're talking about.
    That's exactly how I understand and... don't understand the difference at the same time, which you very clearly formulated here:

    Quote Originally Posted by jutfrank View Post
    So with this view, b) doesn't actually make sense because you can't drive a colour. Another way of phrasing b) is: The car colour you drive.

    I'm not sure why b) seems to make sense, however. I think it's because we'd naturally interpret it to mean The colour of car [of the car] you drive.
    Do you think we can consider The colour of car [of the car] you drive a metonymy, which is basically a kind of speech and meaning compression?
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  9. #39
    Alexey86 is offline Senior Member
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    Re: the choice of car vs the choice of a car

    I think I understood what you meant be category words. They refer to the features of a car as a whole: every car is of some size, weight, shape, colour, price. But we can't say of some door or steering wheel. Is that correct?

    Quote Originally Posted by Alexey86 View Post
    Would you just give me a context or two where you would only use the colour of the car?
    Quote Originally Posted by jutfrank View Post
    Q: Alexey, what do you think about my new car and boat?
    A: I like the colour of the boat but I don't like the colour of the car.

    There's reference to the colour and the car and the boat, which is why the speaker uses the.
    Would you please give me an example or two in which only the colour of car would work so that I could better see its difference from the colour of the car?
    Last edited by Alexey86; 13-May-2021 at 17:26.
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  10. #40
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    Re: the choice of car vs the choice of a car

    Quote Originally Posted by Alexey86 View Post
    Do you think we can consider The colour of car [of the car] you drive a metonymy, which is basically a kind of speech and meaning compression?
    I think that's a good idea, yes. In fact, I was close to mentioning that in my last post. It makes sense to me to think of it as metonymy.

    Quote Originally Posted by Alexey86 View Post
    I think I understood what you meant be category words. They refer to the features of a car as a whole: every car is of some size, weight, shape, colour, price. But we can't say of some door or steering wheel. Is that correct?
    Yes, exactly.

    Would you please give me an example or two in which only the colour of car would work so that I could better see its difference from the colour of the car?
    To do this, I don't need to use the before colour. I only need to use a zero article before car. So:

    Car salesman: Hello, Sir. Welcome to our showroom. We do things a little differently here—first, you choose which colour and size of car you would like and then we'll suggest a make of car to suit your preferences. Is that okay?
    Customer: Yes, fine.
    Car salesman: So what colour of car would Sir like?
    Customer: Yellow.
    Car salesman: Very good, Sir. And what size of car?
    Customer: Extra large.
    Car salesman: Excellent choice, Sir.
    Customer: So what make of car do you suggest?
    Car salesman: I suggest a Lamberrari Cointreau AG-762 Turbo.


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