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  #1 (permalink)  
Unread Oct 31st, 2011, 01:36 pm
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Default George Orwell's English

George Orwell's English is excellent, but there is something I cannot understand.

Quote:
When James Burnham wrote Revolution it seemed probable to many Americans that the Germans would win the European end of the war, and not Russia would dominate the Eurasian land mass, while Japan would remain master of East Asia. This was a miscalculation, but it does not affect the main argument. For Burnham's geographical picture of the new world has turned out to be correct.
In the last sentence of this excerpt from You And The Atomic Bomb, I find the preposition FOR inexplicable;of course we know that it can function as a conjunction, meaning BECAUSE, but how can it be used at the beginning of a sentence?

----------------------------

Besides, MOST can be a stronger form of VERY, and I wonder whether there is such a sentence:He
is a cleverest person

----------------------------
Quote:
Winston Churchill, the former prime minister of Britain, once said...
must the definite article be replaced by an indefinite article?
how about if Churcill is not dead, and is the only former prime minister alive?

THANK YOU

Last edited by KCCHAN : Nov 3rd, 2011 at 05:52 am.
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  #2 (permalink)  
Unread Nov 3rd, 2011, 12:15 am
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Default Re: George Orwell's English

another question:

Quote:
Winston Churchill, the former prime minister of Britain, once said that...
In this sentence, must the definite article be replaced by an indefinite article?
How about if Churchill is not dead and he is the only former prime minister alive?
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  #3 (permalink)  
Unread Nov 3rd, 2011, 11:44 am
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Default Re: George Orwell's English

No - it's a difference between expressing shared or unshared information.

The definite article "the" introduces information which is shared between the writer/reader or speaker/listener (have a look at this thread for more on this). The indefinite article "a/an" on the other hand, introduce information which the writer/speaker assumes will be new to the reader/listener.

Here, Orwell assumes you know who Churchill is - his role as Prime Minister is assumed to be shared, and therefore "the" is used. Compare it with :

Andrew Law, a former Prime Minister of Britain, once said that...

This time, I'm not assuming that you know who Law is - in fact I'm assuming that the information will be completely new to you. And so I use "a".

Another example would be :

I spent my holiday in Dax, a town near the south west coast of France.
(I presume you've never heard of it)

I spent my holidays in Washington, the city on the east coast that is, not the state on the west coast.
(I presume you already know of both).

To say Winston Churchill, a former Prime Minister.... would therefore sound as if you imagined the reader had never heard of him and needs to be given information on who he was. Which in this case would probably sound as if you were insulting the reader's general knowledge.
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  #4 (permalink)  
Unread Nov 3rd, 2011, 12:11 pm
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Default Re: George Orwell's English

Sorry - didn't see the first part of the question before.

For has the same meaning as because, yes. But it is different syntactically. Because is a subordinating conjunction, and the subordinate clause which it introduces must always be attached to a main clause, whatever order they are in. So I can write both:
He was promoted because he was so good at his job.
and
Because he was so good at his job, he was promoted.
but I can't write : *He was promoted. Because he was so good at his job.

Notice I said write - in spoken English the main clause often gets "detached" from the subordinate clause. As in :
A : Why was he promoted?
B: Because he was so good at his job.

For, however, is not a subordinating conjunction but a co-ordinating conjunction - like and, but and or. And these are often used to start sentences. Look at what I've written here (before and after this point) and you'll find two examples of but starting a sentence, two of and and one of or.


And if you don't trust me, here's Barack Obama in the Yes we can speech :

There will be setbacks and false starts. There are many who won't agree with every decision or policy I make as president, and we know that government can't solve every problem. But I will always be honest with you about the challenges we face. I will listen to you, especially when we disagree. And above all, I will ask you join in the work of remaking this nation the only way it's been done in America for two-hundred and twenty-one years--block by block, brick by brick, calloused hand by calloused hand.

Later in the speech you get :

To those who seek peace and security - we support you. And to all those who have wondered if America's beacon still burns as bright--tonight we proved once more that the true strength of our nation comes not from our the might of our arms or the scale of our wealth, but from the enduring power of our ideals: democracy, liberty, opportunity, and unyielding hope.

For that is the true genius of America--that America can change. Our union can be perfected. And what we have already achieved gives us hope for what we can and must achieve tomorrow.


As for your question about "cleverest" - I'm not sure what you're asking, but if it's about the article : "the" is always used with the superlative, so "*a cleverest" is not possible.

Or were you asking about the form of the superlative? Two syllable adjectives (egnarrow, modern, clever) often have two ways of forming the comparative and superlative - with er/est or more/most. So you could use both, eg :
He's the cleverest person I know.
or
It was the most clever thing I've ever heard.
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  #5 (permalink)  
Unread Nov 3rd, 2011, 01:55 pm
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Default Re: George Orwell's English

YOUr DETAILED Explanation always wins trust.

thank you very much
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