Without being limited by any theoretical explanation

English translation: vide infra

21:34 Nov 18, 2006
English to English translations [PRO]
Law/Patents - Law: Patents, Trademarks, Copyright / test procedure
English term or phrase: Without being limited by any theoretical explanation
"More preferably, the combination of these two polar organic solvents unexpectedly resulted in better dissolution of asphaltenes than either of the two solvents alone in the composition. ***Without being limited by any theoretical explanation***, it is believed that the combination of two different polar organic solvents helps dissolve the asphaltenes."

Can someone paraphrase it please? We don't seem to agree on the exact meaning.

Cheers.
Andrea Re
United Kingdom
Local time: 08:14
English translation:vide infra
Explanation:
There is a grammatical mismatch here, of course: "it" is the subject of the main clause, and "it" can't be limited by a theoretical explanation. In fact, "it", as an anticipatory subject, IS the theoretical explanation given later.

However, I think the problem everyone seems to be having here is with the meaning of "limited". I think "limited" here means "limited", in the usual legal sense. The applicant does not want to be limited by the theoretical explanation. That is to say, whoever it is does not want the scope or applicability of the patent to be restricted by the validity or otherwise of the theoretical explanation. So if the theoretical explanation turns out to be wrong, they don't want the patent to be invalidated by this. Similarly, they don't want some smartarse using the same combination of solvents, but with a different theoretical explanation of why it works to get around the patent.

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Note added at 18 hrs (2006-11-19 16:29:45 GMT)
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Hello Andrea. If you put a participial phrase at the beginning of the sentence, it modifies the subject of the sentence. So, for example, "Walking home, I was hit on the head by a coconut." This means that I was walking home when the coconut hit me. If I said "Walking home, a coconut hit me on the head", this is nonsense, because it implies the coconut was walking home. (I got this example from one of my university teachers, who used to teach schoolkids in tropical Africa--hence the reference to cocunuts!)

The same goes if you put "without" in front of the phrase. So "Without limiting myself by any theoretical explanation, I postulate that..." is fine, because I am the one not being limited. Similarly, if I say, "Without being limited by anty theoretical explanation, I postulate that...", that is fine too for the same reason.

If I say, however, "Without being limited by any theoretical explanation, it is believed that....", what does the phrase "Without being limited by" apply to? Logically, it can only apply to "it", which doesn't make any sense.

In answer to your question, the "it" is impersonal, but it is a special type of impersonal "it", namely an anticipatory subject. The "real" subject is the clause. In English, where the subject is a clause, particularly if it is a long clause, we use the dummy subject "it" and defer the actual subject to the end. We could say, quite grammatically, "That the combination of two polar solvents helps dissolve the asphaltenes is believed", but this is a very clumsy sentence and would never be used by a native speaker of English (although the parallel construction is used A LOT in academic German!).

Hope that helps.
Selected response from:

Richard Benham
France
Local time: 09:14
Grading comment
Thank you for your learned explenation!!!
4 KudoZ points were awarded for this answer



Summary of answers provided
4 +3vide infra
Richard Benham
3 +1comment
Ken Cox
4There is no specific theoretical explanation for this phenomenon
Mohammad Reza Razaghi
3without reference to any established theory
Erich Ekoputra
3although the results may not be supported by accepted theories
RHELLER


Discussion entries: 2





  

Answers


18 mins   confidence: Answerer confidence 3/5Answerer confidence 3/5
without being limited by any theoretical explanation
although the results may not be supported by accepted theories


Explanation:
chemistry is not my field so I can't be sure

RHELLER
United States
Local time: 01:14
Native speaker of: Native in EnglishEnglish
PRO pts in category: 4
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22 mins   confidence: Answerer confidence 4/5Answerer confidence 4/5
without being limited by any theoretical explanation
There is no specific theoretical explanation for this phenomenon


Explanation:
The better dissolution of asphaltenes in two polar organic solvents could not be grounded on any specific chemical theory.

Mohammad Reza Razaghi
Iran
Local time: 11:44
Native speaker of: Native in Farsi (Persian)Farsi (Persian), Native in Persian (Farsi)Persian (Farsi)
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32 mins   confidence: Answerer confidence 3/5Answerer confidence 3/5 peer agreement (net): +1
without being limited by any theoretical explanation
comment


Explanation:
IMHO this is a poor translation, clumsy writing, or someone trying to sound knowledgeable without knowing what they're doing. However, I'm far from being an expert in patent language, so this may well be related to some common form of expression in that area.

Nevertheless, 'it is believed that the combination... asphaltenes' simply restates as a theory what was previously stated as an observed fact ('the combination of these two... in the composition' ). At best it is unfortunate wording, and at worst it is an attempt to dress an observation up as a hypothesis.

That being said, perhaps what the author meant with 'without being limited by any theoretical explanation' is 'although there is no theoretical explanation for this (or we are not aware of any...)' -- but this is an interpretation, and perhaps a rather generous one.

Ken Cox
Local time: 09:14
Native speaker of: Native in EnglishEnglish

Peer comments on this answer (and responses from the answerer)
agree  Richard Benham: Hello Ken. As usual, a well thought-out contribution, but you seem to have missed the legal use of the term "limit"which may be at work here. See my answer for a rather clumsy explanation.
13 hrs
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4 hrs   confidence: Answerer confidence 3/5Answerer confidence 3/5
without being limited by any theoretical explanation
without reference to any established theory


Explanation:
The broad conclusion that "the combination of two different polar organic solvents helps dissolve the asphaltness" has yet to be supported by (some) established chemical theories to make it more specific and accurate, e.g., preconditions to make it happen, expected results (say, asphaltness grade and consistency), and so on.

This part of the sentence "unexpectedly resulted in better dissolution" might indicate that it was more pragmatic than theoretical-based experiment. The conclusion was then reached w/o reference to any theory, so no theoretical explanation had yet established limits (= preconditions, expectable results) to it.

Erich Ekoputra
Indonesia
Local time: 14:14
Works in field
Native speaker of: Native in IndonesianIndonesian
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9 hrs   confidence: Answerer confidence 4/5Answerer confidence 4/5 peer agreement (net): +3
without being limited by any theoretical explanation
vide infra


Explanation:
There is a grammatical mismatch here, of course: "it" is the subject of the main clause, and "it" can't be limited by a theoretical explanation. In fact, "it", as an anticipatory subject, IS the theoretical explanation given later.

However, I think the problem everyone seems to be having here is with the meaning of "limited". I think "limited" here means "limited", in the usual legal sense. The applicant does not want to be limited by the theoretical explanation. That is to say, whoever it is does not want the scope or applicability of the patent to be restricted by the validity or otherwise of the theoretical explanation. So if the theoretical explanation turns out to be wrong, they don't want the patent to be invalidated by this. Similarly, they don't want some smartarse using the same combination of solvents, but with a different theoretical explanation of why it works to get around the patent.

--------------------------------------------------
Note added at 18 hrs (2006-11-19 16:29:45 GMT)
--------------------------------------------------

Hello Andrea. If you put a participial phrase at the beginning of the sentence, it modifies the subject of the sentence. So, for example, "Walking home, I was hit on the head by a coconut." This means that I was walking home when the coconut hit me. If I said "Walking home, a coconut hit me on the head", this is nonsense, because it implies the coconut was walking home. (I got this example from one of my university teachers, who used to teach schoolkids in tropical Africa--hence the reference to cocunuts!)

The same goes if you put "without" in front of the phrase. So "Without limiting myself by any theoretical explanation, I postulate that..." is fine, because I am the one not being limited. Similarly, if I say, "Without being limited by anty theoretical explanation, I postulate that...", that is fine too for the same reason.

If I say, however, "Without being limited by any theoretical explanation, it is believed that....", what does the phrase "Without being limited by" apply to? Logically, it can only apply to "it", which doesn't make any sense.

In answer to your question, the "it" is impersonal, but it is a special type of impersonal "it", namely an anticipatory subject. The "real" subject is the clause. In English, where the subject is a clause, particularly if it is a long clause, we use the dummy subject "it" and defer the actual subject to the end. We could say, quite grammatically, "That the combination of two polar solvents helps dissolve the asphaltenes is believed", but this is a very clumsy sentence and would never be used by a native speaker of English (although the parallel construction is used A LOT in academic German!).

Hope that helps.

Richard Benham
France
Local time: 09:14
Native speaker of: Native in EnglishEnglish
PRO pts in category: 4
Grading comment
Thank you for your learned explenation!!!
Notes to answerer
Asker: Hi again. I don't quite understand the bit about the mismatch.... I thought that "it is believed" was simply an impersonal form. Is it?


Peer comments on this answer (and responses from the answerer)
agree  Alfredo Tutino: I didn't realize this when answering the question in the EN>IT language pair, but I think you're quite right! // Heck! then I'll loose the points! ;-)))
4 hrs
  -> Thanks. I'll go and look at the EN>IT question.//No need to worry about that! I am not about to venture an answer in Italian!

agree  Ken Cox: Hmmm -- I think you're right (and as noted I'm not an expert on patent language, which is a minefield for the unwary), and patent documents are of course drenched with legal language..
6 hrs
  -> Thanks Ken. I think the "minefield" also accounts for why there is so-much of this arse-covering language (as I have postulated it, anyway).

agree  Jörgen Slet
12 hrs
  -> Thanks.

neutral  Erich Ekoputra: ...the text talked about "Test Procedure"// At one point, a patent app talks about test proc to support its claim of invention. Then, IMO, that point must be interpretted technically (=in technical/scientific perspective).
19 hrs
  -> Huh? (a) What part of the patent application? (b) Nobody suggested legal implications were being discussed; "without limitation" clauses are put there to cover your arse, not to discuss something. (c) So what if the text is about a test procedure?
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