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8
votes
2answers
171 views

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 ...
8
votes
1answer
82 views

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 ...
7
votes
4answers
1k views

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 ...
6
votes
6answers
939 views

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 ...
5
votes
3answers
2k views

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, ...
4
votes
4answers
4k views

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?
4
votes
2answers
926 views

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 ...
4
votes
2answers
124 views
+50

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 ...
3
votes
4answers
1k views

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 ...
3
votes
1answer
4k views

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 ...
3
votes
2answers
229 views

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 ...
3
votes
5answers
482 views

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 ...
3
votes
1answer
109 views

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 ...
3
votes
1answer
1k views

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 ...
3
votes
1answer
65 views

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 ...
2
votes
2answers
6k views

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 ...
2
votes
2answers
656 views

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 ...
2
votes
7answers
60 views

How do you call someone who fits in but is still different from others?

I am curious if there's a word for a person who apparently fits in easely but still remains different from other - he thinks differently then the mass, or has different interests than the mass and ...
2
votes
1answer
84 views

I was set up in a sting [on hold]

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 ...
2
votes
1answer
79 views

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 ...
2
votes
1answer
260 views

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 ...
2
votes
1answer
498 views

Rhetorical analysis — compare? [closed]

Can someone please explain similarities and differences between rhetorical analysis and close reading?
2
votes
1answer
86 views

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 ...
2
votes
3answers
239 views

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? ...
2
votes
2answers
154 views

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 ...
1
vote
4answers
2k views

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 ...
1
vote
1answer
233 views

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 ...
1
vote
1answer
117 views

“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 ...
1
vote
3answers
297 views

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 ...
1
vote
1answer
468 views

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 ...
1
vote
1answer
212 views

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 ...
1
vote
3answers
3k views

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 ...
1
vote
1answer
66 views

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 ...
1
vote
1answer
108 views

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 ...
1
vote
1answer
35 views

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 ...
1
vote
1answer
125 views

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 ...
1
vote
2answers
81 views

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 ...
1
vote
1answer
436 views

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 ...
1
vote
2answers
226 views

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 ...
1
vote
2answers
178 views

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 ...
1
vote
1answer
160 views

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 ...
1
vote
2answers
409 views

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 ...
1
vote
2answers
75 views

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 ...
1
vote
1answer
89 views

Contradictory meanings of 'sick'

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) ...
0
votes
3answers
59 views

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 ...
0
votes
2answers
362 views

Meaning of 'pedal' in sentence?

What does the following sentence mean: “Mattan and the yellow jersey were right in the middle of the pack as it peddled hard in the blistering heat.”? I don't understand what "peddle" means in ...
0
votes
2answers
178 views

Interpretation of paragraph in Homer's Iliad Book II [56] translated by Samuel Butler

I'm having some problem understanding the phrase "but do you others go about among the host and prevent their doing so" in the context of the following paragraph: The dream then vanished and I ...
0
votes
1answer
56 views

Can you interpret “Waltz for Venus” differently?

I think you can have two interpretations for this. One being, a dance or music. Two being, accomplish something with little to no effort. Are these two interpretations correct or is it just the former ...
0
votes
2answers
226 views

what is the usage of 'so much going for it that' here?

"Lynn Margulis, to her everlasting credit, saw that separate DNA complements imply the fusion of at least two different kinds of other organisms, each with its own DNA complement, to form a single, ...
0
votes
1answer
89 views

How should this be read? [closed]

We all know that you do not belong here, have no idea what you are talking about, and can't actually script. Should this be interpreted as We all know that you do not belong here You ...