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Vesper Lynd: There are dinner jackets and dinner jackets; this is the latter. And I need you looking like a man who belongs at that table.

Here what does the line "There are dinner jackets and dinner jackets" means?

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This is an example of witty dialogue. We expect that from a James Bond character. It makes those of us who do understand it feel a little superior ... Am I wrong, or am I wrong? –  pavium Jul 8 '11 at 7:35
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Another movie example for you Udayan ... in The Thomas Crown Affair, Pierce Brosnan says to Rene Russo ... "Do you wanna dance, or do you wanna dance?" –  Joe Blow Jul 8 '11 at 9:02
    
Darn - I always thought her name in the book was Vespers, plural. –  Joe Blow Jul 8 '11 at 9:21
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3 Answers

up vote 2 down vote accepted

It's like saying, "There are men, and there are men."

It really depends on the context. But in this context, I reckon Vesper Lynd is really saying:

There are alright dinner jackets, and there are good dinner jackets; this is the latter...

"This is the latter" refers to the second of the dinner jackets, which I am presuming, is "good". (I haven't watched the movie)

It's just another way of saying about the difference between two things of the same type, but different quality.

Edit:

Quoting @Unreason:

To determine which one is better you have to provide more context. Specifically, if the sentence 'And I need you ... at that table.' is affirming the choice of the dinner jacket, then the second one is a better choice. If it is opposing then the second one is a worse choice.

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@Udayan: The latter in the expression is not always better, but it's always "more". You could say "There are bad days, and there are bad days", where the latter would be really really bad days. –  Guffa Jul 8 '11 at 7:37
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To determine which one is better you have to provide more context. Specifically, if the sentence 'And I need you ... at that table.' is affirming the choice of the dinner jacket, then the second one is a better choice. If it is opposing then the second one is a worse choice. –  Unreason Jul 8 '11 at 7:52
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@Exactly @Unreason, So if someone says, There are shirts and there are shirts. This one is the later. I want you looking like a begger.. Then here former is good shirt and later is ugly. (Sorry for bad example! :) –  Udayan Jul 8 '11 at 8:02
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@Udayan, LOL , good example! –  Thursagen Jul 8 '11 at 8:07
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@Ham and Bacon, feel free to do whatever you like with the comments I make :) –  Unreason Jul 8 '11 at 8:13
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It means that there are ordinary, run-of-the mill dinner jackets, and then there are special, well-cut, expensive dinner jackets, of the sort that a millionaire, master criminal or international secret agent would wear.

The idiom can be used for other things too:

I've tried pizza and I don't really like it.

Ah, but there's pizza, and there's pizza. Don't write it off until you've tried pizza from Mario's...

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Yes, that was exactly what she meant. In this movie, James Bond wasn't yet as sophisticated as he would later become, when he would no longer need that kind of advice. –  b.roth Jul 8 '11 at 7:43
    
There is a distinction between idiom and a figure: idioms refer to exact phrases, figures to patterns. This one is a figure. :) –  Unreason Jul 8 '11 at 7:45
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@unreason -- that's interesting. I do believe you, but do you have some reference for that? I've often wondered about exactly how to refer to such "patterns" (I sometimes say "forms"). Do you have a reference that ses one would not use "idiom" for such a pattern? –  Joe Blow Jul 8 '11 at 9:11
    
@Joe Blow, yes, there are references, but it is a bit too long for a comment; take wikipedia's definition of idiom. Notice two things, first they say there are around 25 thousand idiomatic expressions. The number is not important, but it would be really strange if that referred to patterns and not to instances. The other clue is: 'common use of that expression that is separate from the literal meaning or definition of the words of which it is made.' Something can not be literal if it is a pattern. There are other arguments, but as I said, it is a bit too lengthy for comments. –  Unreason Jul 8 '11 at 9:27
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Actually just for the record, I can't see any relationship, at all, between literality and idiom. Some idiom is utterly literal, and some idiom is dadaist. Now, I read the wikipedia article. It's useless, so that's out. For now, I can't really see any reason that one wouldn't refer to a figure/pattern as "idiomatic". Hence, "there's X and then there's X" is indeed idiomatic speech in English. (It would seem?) BTW if you find comments too short, just keep going in the next one :) Cheers! –  Joe Blow Jul 8 '11 at 9:39
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There are answers and then there are answers.

This is, in wider sense, a ploce : The repetition of a single word for rhetorical emphasis. The term is from Gk. plekein, "to plait". Also sp. ploche, ploke, conduplicatio, diaphora, doubler.

In this case, specifically, it could be:

1) Antanaclasis (from Gk. anti “against or back,” ana “up” and klasis “a breaking”. Also sp. anaclasis, refractio, “the rebounde”, “word-clashing”)

The repetition of a word or phrase whose meaning changes in the second instance.

  • In the following example, antanaclasis occurs with an entire phrase whose meaning alters upon repetition:
    "If you aren't fired with enthusiasm, you will be fired with enthusiasm." —Vince Lombardi

2) Diaphora (Gk. “distinction, variance”)

Repetition of a common name so as to perform two logical functions: to designate an individual and to signify the qualities connoted by that individual's name or title.

  • Example:
    "Boys will be boys."

Out of these two possibilities, antanaclasis is definitively a better choice as the second figure, diaphora, refers to ploce of common names.

The antanaclasis fits because in the expression

There are dinner jackets and dinner jackets.

the phrase takes different meaning, in one case it means an ordinary dinner jacket and in another a dinner jacket that would fit at "that table".

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Thanks @Unreason! That is the perfect technical answer for the question. I have already accepted an answer, I won't change it.. but upvoting your answer. –  Udayan Jul 8 '11 at 8:30
    
Dear downvoter, I would love to improve my answer, but I can't see what is wrong with it. Could you elaborate on the down-vote? –  Unreason Jul 8 '11 at 9:06
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This answer is 100% incorrect. In antanaclasis, the meaning changes between the two uses. That is completely irrelevant to the well-known form "There is X, and then there is X." Specifically in "There is X and then there is X" the two "X" are indeed exactly the same thing. Very simply ,the phrase means "Different quality levels of X exists: ordinary ones and extraordinary ones." –  Joe Blow Jul 8 '11 at 9:09
    
@Joe Blow, I have considered your arguments before posting the answer and found them not applying. Well, except your opinion on ploce, which I am afraid is just plain wrong (see examples at grammar.about.com/od/pq/g/ploceterm.htm, and also definition at rhetoric.byu.edu); ploce is used to describe any rhetorical repetition of a word. So, on that account, I believe that you are in obvious contradiction with the references (and you don't provide references for the idea that ploce would only apply to Churchill's example)... –  Unreason Jul 8 '11 at 12:13
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Regarding antanaclasis, as you know it is "repetition [where] meaning changes in the second instance." (Such as the witty Vogue/Vogue example.) In the idiom at hand, it means exactly the same thing both times. It means "dinner jacket" (!) both times. You are arguing that the second time it means a dinner jacket, BUT, a really good one. So for you, "a really good car" is a different thing from "a car." I would just say that this well known idiomatic form seems a long way from any well-known antanaclasis. (Indeed, you brought up many lists of antanaclasis: none contain the idiom at hand.) –  Joe Blow Jul 8 '11 at 13:29
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