Which version is correct?

Discussion in 'Linguistics' started by tablariddim, Apr 15, 2007.

  1. tablariddim forexU2 Valued Senior Member

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    What if he saw Peter somewhere and recognised him--he was not easy to miss.

    What if he saw Peter somewhere and recognised him--he was not difficult to miss.

    To me, either version can have the same meaning, which is really weird as they are opposing words.
     
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  3. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

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    They mean just the opposite.

    The first sentence makes the point that if he ever saw Peter anywhere, he would surely recognize him. If there were any element of surprise in the situation, it would be the fact that Peter was there at all, in this place at this time.

    The second sentence makes the point that if he ever saw Peter anywhere, he would probably not recognize him, or perhaps not even notice him. This suggests that he may cross paths with Peter more often than he realizes, and simply not know he is there. The element of surprise in the situation is not that Peter is in this place at this time--since the habits of a man who goes unnoticed are not well known--but that for perhaps the first time he actually sees Peter at all outside of familiar circumstances.

    These express two much different thoughts.
     
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  5. tablariddim forexU2 Valued Senior Member

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    You are perfectly correct of course, it took me a few minutes to my head around that.
     
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  7. valich Registered Senior Member

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    I think they both mean the same because the initial phrase emphasizes the recognition of Peter, while the later emphasizes some sort've similarity in that he was not easy to miss or not difficult to miss: same difference.
     
  8. redarmy11 Registered Senior Member

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    Thought is a wonderful thing. Never stop.
     
  9. tablariddim forexU2 Valued Senior Member

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    That's what I thought at first glance, but if you analyse it, the 2 phrases do mean the opposite.

    It's easier to work out if you think of the opposites of the subjective words.

    1 He was not easy to miss, i.e. it was difficult to miss him.

    2 He was not difficult to miss, i.e. it was easy to miss him.
     
  10. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

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    The second sentence is a little odd. If Peter is that difficult to notice, why is anyone worried about the possibility of noticing him? If this person has uncomfortable feelings about what he would do if he encountered Peter and recognized him, I guarantee you that if he ever actually does encounter Peter, he will not recognize him. His unconscious will take care of the problem for him!

    The first sentence stands on its own, but the second needs to be embedded in some context to make better sense.
     
  11. valich Registered Senior Member

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    Yeah sure: if you sit there and "analyze" it. When you stop to psycho-analyze anything you'll come up with all different types of interpretations. I'm saying that at face-value, when they're spoken out, they both mean the same thing. In common dialogue, when you're speaking, there is no difference. The conversation flows on and the meaning is understood. And so it goes.
     
  12. redarmy11 Registered Senior Member

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    No, "easy" and "difficult" have diametrically opposite meanings. Misunderstanding what someone says, even though you think you've understood it, is another matter.
     
  13. tablariddim forexU2 Valued Senior Member

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    You can't psychoanalyse a sentence hello

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    .

    In common dialogue people say all kinds of wrong shit and it's up to the listener to decipher it:shrug:

    Yeah but, no but, yeah but, no, however you look at it, they are two opposite statements.

    1 Peter, being the subject, is not difficult to miss therefore it is not difficult for someone else not to notice him.

    Means he can remain unnoticed.

    2 Peter, being the object, is not difficult to miss, therefore it is not difficult for him to go unnoticed.

    Means he can remain unnoticed

    3 Peter, being the subject, is not easy to miss, therefore it is not easy for someone else not to notice him.

    Means he can be noticed easily.

    4 Peter, being the object, is not easy to miss, therefore it is not easy for him to go unnoticed.

    Means he can be noticed easily.

    Opposite statements.
     
  14. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

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    This strikes me as the very mechanism by which the atrocious word "near-miss" was coined instead of the perfectly sensible and equally pronounceable word "near-hit."

    I recommend a vigorous campaign to stomp out this error before it becomes popular.

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