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usage of articles

English translation: that he is an elephant, a giraffe, a hare.

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09:58 Jul 4, 2007
English to English translations [PRO]
Art/Literary - Poetry & Literature / fairy tale
English term or phrase: usage of articles
Please comment on the usage of articles in the sentence below. Thank you in advace !

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They are people who give names to animals. People have told the elephant that he is elephant, the giraffe that he is giraffe, and the hare that he is hare.
Alexander Onishko
Local time: 07:53
English translation:that he is an elephant, a giraffe, a hare.
Explanation:
People have told the elephant that he is an elephant (etc.)
Selected response from:

Marie-Hélène Hayles
Local time: 06:53
Grading comment
many thanks to all !
4 KudoZ points were awarded for this answer

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Summary of answers provided
4 +3that he is an elephant, a giraffe, a hare.
Marie-Hélène Hayles
5 +2indefinite article missing
Jane Ashford
4 +1commentKen Cox


Discussion entries: 10





  

Answers


4 mins   confidence: Answerer confidence 4/5Answerer confidence 4/5 peer agreement (net): +3
that he is an elephant, a giraffe, a hare.


Explanation:
People have told the elephant that he is an elephant (etc.)

Marie-Hélène Hayles
Local time: 06:53
Meets criteria
Native speaker of: English
PRO pts in category: 16
Grading comment
many thanks to all !
Notes to answerer
Asker: so you believe my usage is incorrect and this is a grammar mistake ?


Peer comments on this answer (and responses from the answerer)
agree  Kurt Porter
1 min

agree  Jane Ashford: you beat me to it!
2 mins

agree  Jack Doughty: Also I would say "It is people" who give names, not "They are people".
6 mins
  -> Yes, or "they are the people", as David suggests.
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5 mins   confidence: Answerer confidence 5/5 peer agreement (net): +2
indefinite article missing


Explanation:
===
They are people who give names to animals. People have told the elephant that he is AN elephant, the giraffe that he is A giraffe, and the hare that he is A hare.

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Note added at 8 mins (2007-07-04 10:06:12 GMT)
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Alexander, omitting these articles is essentially a mistake. Of course the meaning is clear without them, but it doesn't sound right. Hope that helps.

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Note added at 10 mins (2007-07-04 10:08:24 GMT)
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I guess you could argue that, and in that case I would put 'People have told the elephant that he is Elephant', ie. if you're using it as his name, as a proper noun. Personally though, it still sounds a bit wrong to my ears, and if you read it aloud it might not be obvious.

Jane Ashford
Local time: 05:53
Meets criteria
Native speaker of: English
Notes to answerer
Asker: so you believe my usage is incorrect and this is a grammar mistake ? - what about "personification" - the giraffe that he is *giraffe* - second time it's the name - a kind of a proper name

Asker: and what whould you say if I have written - "People have told the elephant that he is Elephant, the giraffe that he is Giraffe, and the hare that he is Hare.


Peer comments on this answer (and responses from the answerer)
agree  Marie-Hélène Hayles: I see you've said the same thing in your notes as I've said above in "ask the asker"!
11 mins

agree  Cervin: You definitely need the indefinite article ( shades of Rudyard Kipling in the sentence!)
6 hrs
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17 mins   confidence: Answerer confidence 4/5Answerer confidence 4/5 peer agreement (net): +1
comment


Explanation:
The indefinite articles are essential if the words are not capitalised.

If they are capitalised, you can claim to be emulating Kipling; in any case it is an old-fashioned style.

If the sense of the latter version is what you want to achieve, it might be better to reword this along the lines of 'people have assigned the attribute "elephant" to elephants', etc. - after all, people have not literally approached these animals and said, 'Hey you're an elephant!' or the like.

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Note added at 42 mins (2007-07-04 10:40:30 GMT)
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Hmmm -- the suggested alternative wording is hardly appropriate to a fairly tale.

Ken Cox
Local time: 06:53
Meets criteria
Native speaker of: Native in EnglishEnglish
PRO pts in category: 88

Peer comments on this answer (and responses from the answerer)
agree  Richard Benham: I think the silly suggestion you mention (someone going up to an elephant and telling its name is now Elephant) makes sense for a fairytale. Generally, of course, your points are all valid.
10 hrs
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