Author Topic: the tiger VS. tigers  (Read 3291 times)

Offline nima_persia

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the tiger VS. tigers
« on: April 01, 2015, 12:24:57 PM »
https://books.google.com/books?id=Djnt3b3I6J8C&pg=PA267&dq=%22the+tiger+is+in+danger+of+extinction%22&hl=en&sa=X&ei=bXcVVayHDcGMaPG5gNgP&ved=0CB0Q6AEwAA#v=onepage&q=%22the%20tiger%20is%20in%20danger%20of%20extinction%22&f=false

Using just 'species' (for the sake of simplicity and consistency), the author's judgments can be summarized as follows:

• (39a) the species of the tiger = (marginally) OK

• (39b) the species of tigers = (marginally) OK

• (39c) the species Panthera Tigris = OK

• (40a-i) the species of tiger = ungrammatical

• (40a-ii) the species of tiger we just talked about = OK

• (40b-i) a species of tiger = OK

• (40b-ii) that species of tiger = OK

As for why, all three forms in (39) mean Panthera tigris as a whole. In contrast, all instances of the words 'species of tiger' in (40) refer not Panthera tigris as a whole but rather more specific sub-species (e.g. Panthera tigris corbetti or Panthera tigris jacksoni). In glancing down at the first sentence of section 3, it looks like the authors are going to go into more detail about their theoretical explanation for this pattern.

Due to space restrictions, I'll answer separately: [1] "why while 40a-i is incorrect, actually, 40b-i and 40b-ii are correct?" The difference here is simply a matter of how English articles are used. 'the' sometimes requires a modifier (like in 40a-ii), but the same is not true for 'a' or 'that'.

[2] "what is the subtle difference between 39a and 39b? In (39a), 'the tiger' is a generic NP, where 'tiger' refers to the essence of being a tiger. In contrast, (39b) is plural, and 'tigers' is not generic but rather just means the collection of subspecies like Panthera tigris corbetti.

[3] "what do you mean by the [term] marginally?" I agree with the author's judgments here. Instead of (39a) or (39b), I would probably instead say just "the tiger". (39a) and (39b) are possible, but awkwardly formal and bookish.

[4] "what is the difference between 39a, 39b, and 39c? In terms of core referential meaning, they are more or less all the same. As mentioned above, (39a) and (39b) are kind of unnatural, whereas (39c) would be perfectly normal in an academic conversation about these animals. ….

[1] "the" means that the speaker believes the listener can uniquely identify the referent. In (40a-i), if the NP's intended meaning is a subspecies (like P. t. corbetti), then it's ungrammatical because, with just this sentence in isolation, the listener can't do so. Adding the modifier fixes this.

[2] "(the species of) the tiger" in (39a) is singular, so it refers to a single prototype for everything that can be considered that animal. In contrast, "(the species of) the tigers" (39b) is plural, so it refers to a grouping made up of many smaller components (the various tiger subspecies).

................................................

Question:

Having taken into account the explanations, would anyone please show me the explanations in a yet more readily way? I really cannot get them clearly. Please excuse my being rudeness, as the question is too wordy. Please feel free to ask me any question to clarify the question more specific. Any feed-back or comment would greatly be appreciated


Updated:
 Or, my specific problems:


 I am wondering what is the difference between the following:

1. 39a VS. 39b

2.39a, 39b, and 39c

3. why is 40i incorrect?

4. what is the difference between 40s?

 
« Last Edit: April 02, 2015, 05:14:30 AM by nima_persia »

Offline Daniel

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Re: the tiger VS. tigers
« Reply #1 on: April 01, 2015, 05:53:42 PM »
The difference is based on whether it is the whole group or a subgroup but it's also problematic because I think tigers are just one species. If you change it to "bird" you would get different judgments. What is the intended context? In the end none of those are the most normal way to say it. I would probably say just "tigers" or if I absolutely needed to include species I'd say "the tiger species". The rest sound like awkward translations.
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Offline Daniel

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Re: the tiger VS. tigers
« Reply #3 on: April 02, 2015, 12:42:30 AM »
Hm. Ok. Is there a specific question about the analysis in that book?
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Offline freknu

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Re: the tiger VS. tigers
« Reply #4 on: April 02, 2015, 03:40:58 AM »
Definite refers to species as a whole:
(1) the tiger species

Indefinite or "of" forms refer to subsets of species:
(2a) a tiger species
(2b) species of tiger