The past is a foreign country

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gemini

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The past is a foreign country: they do things differently there.
What is imply with "the past" word?
 

euncu

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***neither a teacher nor a native-speaker***

Maybe the speaker is on a ship, and the ship has just passed by (or moved past) the shores of a country.
 

Barb_D

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He is using a metaphor. The changes between how things were done then and how things are done now have made things as different as if it were two lands of different cultures instead of the same land with changing times.
 

euncu

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He is using a metaphor. The changes between how things were done then and how things are done now are as different as if it were two lands of different cultures.

Since there is no ship, switching to the first possible explanation makes sence. If I had heard only the first part, that is, The past is a foreign country, I definitely would have thought similar to what you said. But the second part was, as I said on my previous post, what made me change my mind and so I came up with a second explanation.

I'd be happy if you commented on whether the use of present tense for the second part is correct or not.
 

TheParser

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The past is a foreign country: they do things differently there.
What is imply with "the past" word?

********** NOT A TEACHER **********

Hello, Gemini.

(1) Your quotation means a lot to me.

(2) I am an old man.

(3) I was a young man in the 1950's ("the past").

(4) When I compare the world today (including my own

country) with the past, I can assure you that the past is

a foreign (different) country (place). When I return in

my daydreams to the 1950's, they truly do things

differently there. The names of places remain the same, but

how things have changed!!!

(5) I am guessing that you are a young person. Perhaps in

the year 2060, you will look at the world (including your own

country) and sigh: "The past ...."

Thank you
 

Barb_D

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euncu, I think the "there" is just continuing the metaphor.
 

euncu

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I had ruled out that option because the speaker wasn't saying "They did things..." or "They used to do...".

euncu, I think the "there" is just continuing the metaphor.

My problem wasn't "there" as I stated on my post I quoted above. The tense of "do". If I wasn't clear enough to express what I meant to say on my previous posts, I'll start thinking that English is really not my cup of tea. :-(
 

emsr2d2

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My problem wasn't "there" as I stated on my post I quoted above. The tense of "do". If I wasn't clear enough to express what I meant to say on my previous posts, I'll start thinking that English is really not my cup of tea. :-(

I think he only used "they do things differently there", instead of "did", because he is likening the past to a foreign country which exists now. Even though, obviously, the past is in the past (!), his metaphor would use the present.

France is a different country. They do things differently there. This of course, is true now. He is treating the past as if it still exists and uses the present tense accordingly. (Some people, of course, believe that time is not linear and that the past, the present and the future all exist at the same time.)
 

bhaisahab

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I think he only used "they do things differently there", instead of "did", because he is likening the past to a foreign country which exists now. Even though, obviously, the past is in the past (!), his metaphor would use the present.

France is a different country. They do things differently there. This of course, is true now. He is treating the past as if it still exists and uses the present tense accordingly. (Some people, of course, believe that time is not linear and that the past, the present and the future all exist at the same time.)
I love that answer.
 

euncu

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Maybe the speaker is on a ship, and the ship has just passed by (or moved past) the shores of a country.

Ok, if there hadn't been any metaphor and had been a ship involved, would my comment have been correct?
 

Barb_D

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Hi euncu,
I just want to assure you that the problem with my understanding your point was not in your communication. You referred to the "second part" and I made an assumption about what you were talking about, focused only on the "there" instead of the tense.
 

euncu

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Hi euncu,
I just want to assure you that the problem with my understanding your point was not in your communication. You referred to the "second part" and I made an assumption about what you were talking about, focused only on the "there" instead of the tense.

Thank you for the answer.

As you can see in my latest post, I am now enquiring about something else. Is the way of thinking in my first post correct? I mean, if I walk past a shop, can I refer to the shop as "The past is an expensive shop" ?

Thanks for your answer in advance.
 

Barb_D

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It's not a very natural way to talk.
We just passed a foreign land.
We've passed by an expensive shop.

You could still use it a bit metaphorically: That foreign land is our past. Now that we are back home, this is our present.
 

euncu

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It's not a very natural way to talk.
We just passed a foreign land.
We've passed by an expensive shop.

You could still use it a bit metaphorically: That foreign land is our past. Now that we are back home, this is our present.

Thanks again for your answer.

Ok, no more questions but this last one (on this thread of course), as I understand it, there is no such thing as ;

"The past is an expensive shop" ?

Or, it just sounds unnatural although it makes sense in English. (At least, the sense I meant in the very first place). To prevent any misunderstanding I should add (or I should have add that in my first post on this thread) that by saying past I'm referring to an action (namely, moving past), I am, by no means, talking about the past times, past events.

Thanks for your answer in advance. (I'm sorry that I had you obliged to read this sentence over and over again)
 

Barb_D

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I can't even say that it makes sense in English.
 
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