# Tagged Questions

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### What does the initial fragment of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy mean?

I begun reading Douglas Adams' The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. This is one of the initial fragments, emphasis mine: This planet has - or rather had - a problem, which was this: most of ...
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### A question of interpretation: single word parenthesis

To my mind this: Entity foo varies seemingly at random. is semantically equivalent to this: Entity foo varies, seemingly, at random. However, is this necessarily the case? What alternative,...
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### I'll read that book in 2 hours

"I'll read that book in 2 hours." I'm pretty sure this phrase means that after 2 hours from now I will start reading the book, but I can't stop thinking that it could also means that it will take me 2 ...
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### The word 'not' often doesn't mean total negation in mathematical sense?

Consider the following conversations: X1: I paid \$10 for that hamburger. Y1: That's not cheap! X2: I pay \$1 for broadband Internet access. Y2: That's cheap! X3: I paid \$1 for a hot ...
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### How to understand these verses from the poem “The road not taken” by Robert Frost

I actually have two questions regarding this poem: The Road Not Taken by Robert Frost Two roads diverged in a yellow wood, And sorry I could not travel both And be one traveler, ...
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### Are there previous formulations of this quote from George R.R. Martin

I love this quote from George R.R. Martin — 'A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies. The man who never reads lives only one.' I just learned today of a similar formulation from St. Augustine -...
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### Divided by half - meaning

If someone says "Fifteen divided by half", I would interpret that literally to mean 15/0.5, or 30. However, I usually see it interpreted as 15/2, or 7.5. Which interpretation is correct?
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### Meaning of: “The trouble ain't that there is too many fools, but that the lightning ain't distributed right”

This is a Mark Twain aphorism: The trouble ain't that there is too many fools, but that the lightning ain't distributed right. This is apparently intended to be easily understood, but the ...
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### singular or plural? The whole of A & B is/are?

"The whole of society and the religious world was strongly impacted by this new religious view." What should be put here, "was" or "were"? How should this sentence be interpreted, and under each ...
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### Is it the “second half” or “second part” of the century?

I faced this problem when interpreting the transcript of records today. The subject is: "European History of the second half/part of the XX century till today" So is it better to say "part" or "half"?...
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### What does “I'll kill that cat” in the play Dinner for One mean?

In the play Dinner for One, James the butler says, "I'll kill that cat," at time 14:05. What does this mean? Is he referring to the tiger rug which keeps tripping him, or is it a saying or ...
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### How to interpret “…the disinfectant burnt her inside out, of course”

A character in a play is talking about how a girl committed suicide by swallowing strong disinfectant, but it's "burnt her inside out" that I'm questioning. It may be possible to interpret it in both ...
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### Is cruel standard use as a noun in poetry? Are there terms for non-standard English specifically in regard to use in poetry?

I hope this question isn't off-topic. I heard a madrigal with the following verse which bothers me somewhat, grammatically. Cruel, wilt thou persever? Peace to leave ever? Peace shalt thou have and ...
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### Making sense of a sentence in a politcal economy article

Reading this critical geopolitical economic article, I found myself troubled understanding this sentence: "Markets have priced in nothing bad from here to as far as the eye can see." Here's the ...
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### Interpretation of “The biggest thing to happen to iPhone since iPhone”

When I read the phrase The biggest thing to happen to iPhone since iPhone I interpreted it to imply that the first occurrence of iPhone happened to itself -- that is, the first iPhone ...
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### Is a past tense protasis necessarily hypothetical when followed by an apodosis with “would have”?

Is a protasis with a verb in the past tense necessarily interpreted as a hypothetical condition when followed by an apodosis with "would have" + past participle? For example, is the sentence If ...
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### Does the sentence “What the fox say?” mean anything?

In the lyrics for the song "What does the fox say" the following sentence appears. "What the fox say"[sic] It uses the word "say" and not "says", and there is no "does". Does the sentence make ...
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### Failed Experiment? [closed]

Is it proper to use the phrase "failed experiment" at all? And if so, should it refer exclusively to experiments that had some ineluctable flaw in the process of their implementation or can it also ...
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### I was set up in a sting [closed]

I read someone's story and she said: "Then I was set up in a sting by the same woman who got me started. I was wondering what has just happened !! .. What is she implying ? I couldn't understand by ...
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### What does this sentence about 'ὑπό' mean?

Wiktionary has the description of meaning for the ancient Greek word 'ὑπό': under, that is, (with the genitive) of place (beneath), or with verbs (the agency or means, through); (with the ...
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### Antecedent of “whose common theme is death of fathers” in Hamlet

Here's from Hamlet, Act 1. Scene 2 Claudius: Fie! 'tis a fault to heaven, A fault against the dead, a fault to nature, To reason most absurd; whose common theme Is death of fathers,...
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### Rhetorical analysis — compare? [closed]

Can someone please explain similarities and differences between rhetorical analysis and close reading?
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### What does the / mean?

Looking at forms in financial risk assessment, there is a question 'I'm happy investing a large proportion of my income / capital in a high-risk investment'. Is the '/' here being used as shorthand ...
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### What does this intricate sentence mean? [closed]

What does this bold part mean? It doesn't make any sense. What did he want to say here? http://www.newyorker.com/online/blogs/elements/2013/08/syrian-electronic-army-hackers-new-york-times-tactics....
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### What does the author mean by “door culture” in this context?

What does the author mean by "door culture" in this context? First-order effects I take to be a metaphor with economics. However, I don't understand how to translate my understanding of "first-order ...
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### Would you tell me the difference between object and objective as a noun?

I am very confused. Could you possibly elaborate (in detail) the reason why: My object is to improve my English as much as possible. [WRONG it should be 'objective'] My object is to learn ...
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### Could somebody translate this into modern English? [closed]

This was extracted from Book I of the Iliad by Homer (translated by Samuel Butler): Therefore I say, and swear it with a great oath- nay, by this my sceptre which shalt sprout neither leaf nor ...
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### “Elves and Men, the Firstborn and the Followers”

This is a quote from Silmarillion, but I really do not know if there are two meanings or one. Because on my language this "Followers" can means that come after the Firstborn or those who likes ...
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### Literally vs. figuratively: how literally is literally? [closed]

I'm sensitive to the fact that in light of recent events, the example discussed in this question may be unsettling to some. For that, I apologize, but I cannot think of an effective alternative. In ...
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### Can someone please explain the following passage from Milton's Paradise Lost?

I understand all the words, but not quite the meaning of the following passage, from Milton's Paradise Lost, Book I: 635 For me be witness all the host of heaven, 636 If counsels different, or ...
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### Is “He was shot in the street” ambiguous? [closed]

I'd say both of these uses of "he was shot" make sense: "How did he die?" -- "He was shot in the street" [meaning shot dead] "He was shot in the street, but luckily the bullet only hit his foot." [...
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### Does “otherwise” have a negative connotation in this context?

I was wondering whether the word otherwise has exactly the same meaning as if not in the following sentence. I myself think that otherwise will add some negative attitudes toward the sentence ...
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### How should this sentence be interpreted?

So I am reading the essay "On Some Verses of Virgil" by Michel de Montaigne (translation by Donald M. Frame) and I came across this particular sentence. Is there any ugliness in doing wrong that ...
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### Is “gilded” usually associated with gold as an element or as a colour?

I know that gilded means covered or highlighted with gold or something of a golden color So it can be associated both with gold as a chemical element or just the colour. Some situations might ...
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### How to interpret “Jim Scarborough'd never carried one; that's the younger Jim.” in No Country for Old Men

I like the movie No Country for Old Men directed by the Coen brothers. That's the reason why I recently read the novel of the same name. As I'm not a native speaker, I chose the book translated in my ...
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### Interpretation of ambiguous sentence “You Can’t Put Too Much Water into a Nuclear Reactor”

"You Can’t Put Too Much Water into a Nuclear Reactor" This sentence is from a book, "The Definitive ANTLR 4 Reference" authored by Terence Parr. The author used this sentence as an example of ...
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### Is there a precedence of clauses in a sentence without commas, or is it just ambiguous?

I have been asked to make symbolic translation of an English sentence during a formal logic exam, which I believed to be rather ambiguous. The TA asserted that the sentence is not ambiguous, and the ...
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### Why “chickentown” in Clarke's “Evidently Chickentown” [closed]

Evidently Chickentown (warning NSFW language) by John Cooper Clarke. I gather the overall meaning of the poem is, to quote after wiki, to convey a sense of futility and exasperation [through the use ...
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### can hardly read … and feel

The following quotation is taken from an article by Fintan O'Toole titled This glorious and unruly English language that lets everyone in (The Observer, Sunday 15 September 2013). Does the word ...
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### Meaning: I'm so happy that I can sing

Suddenly came up with a thought that the sentence below could have two meanings due to the "so ~ that" structure. I'm so happy that I can sing. If the sentence had no "so", it would mean that the ...
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### Finding the correct interpretation of “Every X [units of time], at maximum/minimum.”

I've recently been involved in a discussion over different interpretations of the following sentence (paraphrased): Users may update their information every two weeks, at maximum. The intended ...
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### Kiwi Power Green - is that more Kiwi “Power Green” or more “Kiwi Power” Green?

Recently my wife bought a piece of toddler swimwear for our little ones. A crisp, flashy neon green cute little piece of garment that had a label on which the color name was written: "KIWI POWER GREEN"...
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### On the interpretation of “walked to the station at 9 o'clock” [closed]

I want to confirm what a book says. It says: I went to the station at 9 o'clock. I walked to the station at 9 o'clock. Sentence (1) has the following two meaning: a. I left for the station at 9 ...
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### Could “extraordinary few exceptions” be correct?

In his 1991 book, historian J.B. Russel writes: with extraordinary few exceptions no educated person ... believed that the earth was flat Should extraordinary be an adverb, or could this ...
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### What is the meaning and interpretation of the word Rosario? [closed]

I have come across this word multiple times. I have been trying to get some reasonable interpretation for this word. Especially relative to a certain context. It seems that the word is related to the ...
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### Curious combination of freedoom, self made fences?

Many friends have said to me that they love New York now in a way they never did before, and their love, I've noticed, takes for its object all the things that used to exasperate them--the curious ...
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We usually use the word 'sick' to refer to something that you are tired of or don't like. So it is quite clear when we say I'm sea-sick, that we mean, one is sick of travelling by sea (eg: boat) ...
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### Confusing passage

I find people willing to seriously consider robots not only as pets but as potential friends, confidants, and even romantic partners. We don't seem to care what these artificial intelligences "...