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In some cases we can even use a defunct item as the subject of "is". For example:

Julius Caesar is one of the best known Roman rulers.
The pterodactyl is a prime example of an ancient flying reptile.
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Morphosyntax / Re: Copular Clauses -- Predicational, Specificational & Equative
« Last post by Daniel on February 22, 2018, 07:32:14 PM »
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I see "a kind person" as a property rather than an equivalent.
Kind describes person. But "kind person" = "doctor".
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The doctor is a kind person, but a kind person is not necessarily the doctor.
But that particular kind person is. Feel free to switch in a definite form if it's clearer:
"The kind person is the doctor." = "The doctor is the kind person."

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In the reversed form ("A kind person is the doctor"), I would regard "doctor" as the subject and "a kind person" as the subject complement. It could be written with a comma to represent a slight pause ("A kind person, is the doctor." "A strange fellow, is our Jack.")
That's not the only interpretation, but it's possible. But I'm not sure why that stylistic variation would have an effect either way in terms of copula type. ("Yellow, is the bus.")

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I think a better example of a copula linking two equivalent things would be: "The doctor is the man on the right". Unlike the example above, this can be reversed without sounding unusual, i.e. "The man on the right is the doctor".
Yes. Using any definite form works better (but isn't required and can still work under the right reading otherwise).
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Morphosyntax / Re: Copular Clauses -- Predicational, Specificational & Equative
« Last post by Audiendus on February 22, 2018, 07:22:32 PM »
In the case of two things that are equivalent, you should be able to reverse the order (setting aside pragmatic preferences):
"The doctor is a kind person." > "A kind person is the doctor."
I see "a kind person" as a property rather than an equivalent. The doctor is a kind person, but a kind person is not necessarily the doctor. In the reversed form ("A kind person is the doctor"), I would regard "doctor" as the subject and "a kind person" as the subject complement. It could be written with a comma to represent a slight pause ("A kind person, is the doctor." "A strange fellow, is our Jack.")

I think a better example of a copula linking two equivalent things would be: "The doctor is the man on the right". Unlike the example above, this can be reversed without sounding unusual, i.e. "The man on the right is the doctor".
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Hi Vincent and welcome!

The simplest answer is to practice. A lot. And practice well. Don't rely on Chinese. I'd suggest roughly 90% of your time just practicing, and then maybe 10% (or less) of your time analyzing your usage in helpful ways such as (re-)read a paragraph/page/section and highlighting words you don't know, and looking them up. Reading is relatively easy to do on your own without any help, but for the other skills (with you can still of course keep practicing, and you obviously have found a way to do this!) you should look for some feedback from native speakers. Most importantly, you want to break any bad habits you've formed. For example, try not to skim over words you don't know but actively look them up. (That's just one suggestion, and not one you need to literally do every time.) In short, doing things that are uncomfortable (like reading a lot when it's hard) is actually usually a good thing, because you'll eventually get good at it.

That's really all the advice anyone can give you. Easy advice. Lots of work/time for you. But also easy to practice. Just keep going it. Having your background really will make it easier, and you'll catch up eventually.

From what you wrote above, your writing seems very clear and good, although I do notice a few minor mistakes:
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I am a Chinese descent born in the United States.
"Descent" is not a noun, so it can't be used like that. "Descendant" would work but doesn't have quite the right meaning (usually it's a relationship noun for distant relationships in a family as in "my descendants in the future"). Probably "someone of Chines descent" (yes, more indirect/awkward phrasing) is what a native speaker would say, or just some other alternative. (Culturally I've heard "American Born Chinese", even sometimes abbreviated ABC, but I don't know if that applies to you from what you wrote, or how many people really use that, but I know some people do.)
Part of speech errors are very common for Chinese speakers because Chinese doesn't use word forms to distinguish between parts of speech. Nouns for verbs, adjectives for nouns, etc. This is a sign of Chinese influence, and something that will improve with practice-- obviously you are making few mistakes of this kind, so it's not a "big" problem, but something worth noticing.

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Right now, I returned to the United States to complete my high school education.
There is a mix up of tense/time here. You say "right now" should should be present tense, but then you use a past tense verb. This is another common error for Chinese speakers (because tense/time is used differently in Chinese for some complex reasons I could explain, but in short just doesn't work like English). This isn't technically "wrong", just stylistically odd and probably not something a native speaker would usually write. Instead I would suggest "Recently, I returned", or "Right now, I have returned".

The main reason I mention these details is that it is much easier to get feedback (from native speaker friends or from a trained linguist) on your production of language rather than your perception. There's very little that someone can do to help you with reading (aside from giving you more things to read or giving you tests about comprehension), but it is much easier to give you more active advice about any mistakes you make while speaking. Also, typically, people find it easier to read than to write, listen or speak. So if that is not the case for you, then maybe you are having trouble reading because you're actually reading at a higher level than your average ability, which is good. But also keep an eye on your other skills and try to get some feedback. Usually vocabulary knowledge is represented in a similar way in your writing and your reading ability, so if that is your main area of difficulty, then practice with writing can help. Reading is generally where people (especially native speakers) learn vocabulary. So keep that in mind too.

Short answer: practice a lot!
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I suspect "I am the God of Abraham" means "I am Abraham's God"
There is very little difference in those in English, and most languages do not have alternating possessive constructions like that. I'd assume you're right. But check the original. There are glossed, interactive Bible texts online in Greek, Hebrew, etc. Very convenient for linguistic research, whether or not you know the languages.

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If true then the relevant question would be is "This is Robbie the Robot's hand" true if Robby is destroyed?
Well, yes. I agree. But that doesn't mean there can't be an implied contrast. A robot can have a designer or an operator (one who operates a remote control or whatever). It would make a lot more sense to say "I am the robot's designer" after 'death', versus saying "I am the robot's operator" after 'death'. There is at least a pragmatic contrast there. The verb "am" also may indicate several relationships such as "being in a position" vs. "having an identity", and so forth, so that also leads to some flexibility. I can't really comment further because this isn't a yes/no kind of answer. The Bible is filled with nuance, and it also may not be intended literally/directly in all cases.
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Hello, thank you very much for taking time to read this. Please allow me to describe my background first.

I am a Chinese descent born in the United States. Supposedly, English is my native language (L1). However, starting from elementary school first grade, I studied abroad in China in an elementary school in which Chinese is the major language. Hence my Chinese began to take over English as my most dominant language. I began to lose my skills in English due to the lack of exposure to it. In the recent years, however, I myself put in very great efforts to recover my English skills. Also, I enrolled in a curriculum in which English is the major language in middle school. Right now, I returned to the United States to complete my high school education.

My skills in English have improved very significantly. Currently, I would say that I am very proficient in speaking, listening and writing in English, and I have no worries about them. The only problem in reading. When I read literary or complex texts in English, I often struggle to comprehend. I scan through the words without absorbing completely the meaning. I did a vocabulary test on testyourvocab.com, it is estimated that I have 11,000 words in my arsenal, which is very proficient for a secondary language speaker, but lagging behind for a native speaker. I did some research about this, and it seems like I am a victim of Language Attrition. My question is: how can I improve my reading skills and my vocabulary such that I am able to comprehend complex texts well? Thank you very much.
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I suspect "I am the God of Abraham" means "I am Abraham's God"

If true then the relevant question would be is "This is Robbie the Robot's hand" true if Robby is destroyed?
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In short the present tense "I am the God of Abraham" does not seem to necessitate the idea that Abraham is still alive.
It depends on what "god" means here. If a god is truly all powerful, then why should death matter at all? Can't Abraham be resurrected by God (if God wishes)? On the other hand, if the meaning is something more like "commander" rather than "creator", I can see the distinction. But I don't see how that is (narrowly) a linguistic issue.

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Historian: "I wish I knew who the owner of the house was so I could interview them about the "Great Burning."

Bystander: "I am the owner of that House"
Actually, that is problematic in two ways:
1. We usually would say "was" instead of "is" in that case. It's more natural. I'm not sure that "is" must be considered 'wrong', but it's not what I would say.
2. The definite article suggests uniqueness, and a house may have at different times belonged to many owners (who sold it to the next, etc.), and tense should line up with that. To say "I am the last owner of that house" would be perfectly fine, I think (and maybe even odd with "was"). But to say "I am [still] the owner of that house" sounds odd (and better with "was", without "still").

This reminds me of how when I was in a small town in Costa Rica there were no street addresses and instead all directions were given based on landmarks. I stayed at a place on the hill near the water tank, so directions were given relative to that. But a very central part of town was where there used to be a very large, old tree. It had fallen over years before and was gone now. But everyone knew where it was. So directions were still along the lines of "turn left at the big tree", or "across the street from the big tree", etc. Obviously that seemed very strange to me (even once someone had told me there used to be a big tree there!), but the locals didn't seem bothered by it.

There are some interesting distinctions regarding whether an entity is still alive in semantics. One argument is regarding the English present perfect. Compare these sentences:
"Einstein has been one of the most influential physicists."
"Einstein was one of the most influential physicists."
"Einstein has taught at Princeton."
"Einstein taught at Princeton."

Unless you can establish some present relevance (for the first sentence it might be easier), the present perfect sounds odd.

But of course Einstein is not a god. And those examples are about subjects, not objects.

One suggestion: really look into the original Greek (or Hebrew if it comes from something earlier) to see what's going on there. No idea if this translates well into English.
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"But concerning the resurrection of the dead, have you not read what God said to you: ‘I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob?’ He is not the God of the dead, but of the living.”-Jesus of Nazareth

Background: Jesus is talking to the Sadducees, who don't believe in the resurrection or immortality. He attempts to persuade them by using the above argument.

However this argument strikes me as potentially invalid.

It seems perfectly cogent to say "I am the creator of Robby the robot." even if Robby has been destroyed long ago.

Likewise the sentence "This is the Robby the robot's hand." seems fine even if Robby was destroyed long ago leaving behind only his hand.

In short the present tense "I am the God of Abraham" does not seem to necessitate the idea that Abraham is still alive.

I do have some counter intuitions though.

For example " I am the owner of that house." seems very strange to say if that house was destroyed 40 years ago.

However even the above sentence has times where it seems to be ok.

Such as this conversation

Historian: "I wish I knew who the owner of the house was so I could interview them about the "Great Burning."

Bystander: "I am the owner of that House"

In summery when is it fine to say "I am" in connection to a extinct object and in particular is my suspicion that "I am the God of Abraham" does not have to imply Abraham's continued existence true?

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Feedback, Help and Forum Policy / literary linguistics
« Last post by curious linguist on February 19, 2018, 03:24:56 AM »
I am new on the block.want to do some comparative research through content analysis..problem in theoretical framework.Can someone here share some link or guide me through this problem..I want to analyze novels but through the lens of linguistics. any insight please?..
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