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proverbial right arm

 
 
Reply Thu 11 Sep, 2008 10:33 pm
You are both excellent users of the English language. Believe me, many native speakers would give their proverbial right arm to have the command of English that you both possess.

What does 'proverbial right arm' mean?

Many thanks.
 
Robert Gentel
 
  1  
Reply Thu 11 Sep, 2008 11:01 pm
@tanguatlay,
There is a saying that goes "I would give my right arm to..."

So the "proverbial right arm" is the arm in that famous "proverb."

Here is a rewrite of the sentence to give the same meaning:

Many native speakers would give their right arm, as the saying goes, to have the command of English that you both possess.

BTW, if you use "english" as a tag when you post these it will be easier to find for people who like to answer ESL questions.
0 Replies
 
OmSigDAVID
 
  3  
Reply Thu 11 Sep, 2008 11:31 pm
@tanguatlay,
Quote:
many native speakers would give their proverbial right arm
to have the command of English that you both possess.

So far as the number of speakers and the number of arms
is concerned, the many speakers do not all share one right arm.
Each of the many speakers has his own right arm,
hence, there are as many right arms as there are speakers.
Therefore,
to be more correct you shoud say:
" many native speakers would give their proverbial right arms
to have the command of English that you both possess."
tanguatlay
 
  2  
Reply Sat 13 Sep, 2008 03:27 am
@OmSigDAVID,
Hi guys
I still do not understand the meaning of the clause. Does it me that they will shake my hands or figuratively give me their right arm?

Many thanks.
OmSigDAVID
 
  2  
Reply Sat 13 Sep, 2008 04:01 am
@tanguatlay,
No.
It means that "the command of English that you both possess"
is so GOOD, desirable and VALUABLE that thay woud give
their right arms in exchange
for so fine a command of English.
tanguatlay
 
  2  
Reply Sat 13 Sep, 2008 04:09 am
@OmSigDAVID,
Thanks, David, for the clear explanation.
OmSigDAVID
 
  1  
Reply Sat 13 Sep, 2008 04:12 am
@tanguatlay,
U r welcome
0 Replies
 
JTT
 
  2  
Reply Sat 13 Sep, 2008 08:05 pm
@OmSigDAVID,
Quote:

So far as the number of speakers and the number of arms
is concerned, the many speakers do not all share one right arm.
Each of the many speakers has his own right arm,
hence, there are as many right arms as there are speakers.
Therefore,
to be more correct you shoud say:
" many native speakers would give their proverbial right arms
to have the command of English that you both possess."


If we are to accept the change to a plural 'arms', then how can it only be "more correct", David?

What this type of generic example states is that,

" many native speakers would give [the only right arm they individually possess], proverbial right arm ... "



OmSigDAVID
 
  1  
Reply Sat 13 Sep, 2008 10:48 pm
@JTT,
Quote:
Quote:

So far as the number of speakers and the number of arms
is concerned, the many speakers do not all share one right arm.
Each of the many speakers has his own right arm,
hence, there are as many right arms as there are speakers.
Therefore,
to be more correct you shoud say:
" many native speakers would give their proverbial right arms
to have the command of English that you both possess."


Quote:
If we are to accept the change to a plural 'arms',
then how can it only be "more correct", David?

If I remember accurately,
it had already been corrected, before I intervened.

I endeavored to make it MORE correct, than it already was.

Quote:
What this type of generic example states is that,

" many native speakers would give
[the only right arm they individually possess],
proverbial right arm ... "

No.
What he meant and what he "states" are 2 different things.
That ' s the reason that I intervened.





David
0 Replies
 
JTT
 
  2  
Reply Sun 14 Sep, 2008 04:33 pm
@tanguatlay,
Quote:
If I remember accurately,
it had already been corrected, before I intervened.

I endeavored to make it MORE correct, than it already was.


Robert made no change to a plural 'arms'. That would be illogical.

Quote:
No.
What he meant and what he "states" are 2 different things.
That ' s the reason that I intervened.


That's simply not true, David. No one would make the illogical assumption that many speakers share one right arm.

"own" is inherent in the meaning.

Original example:
You are both excellent users of the English language. Believe me, many native speakers would give their own proverbial right arm to have the command of English that you both possess.

OmSigDAVID
 
  1  
Reply Sun 14 Sep, 2008 04:50 pm
@JTT,
Quote:
Robert made no change to a plural 'arms'.

Agreed.
That is the reason that I ventured forth to do so.

Quote:
That would be illogical.

Respectfully, I must disagree with u.

Quote:
No one would make the illogical assumption
that many speakers share one right arm.

In my decades on Earth, I have done a lot of writing.
Much of it was professional, wherein I had to tell a court
exactly what I had in mind; I ofen went out of my way
to make the same point several different ways, proving all of them.
I have always been guided in my articulation
by the concept that a reader shoud not have to * assume *
what I mean to tell him in my writing,
because I am sufficiently explicit (unless I consciously choose to be vague)
to make my meaning extremely clear to his mind.
Hence, I believe that no one shoud write
in such a fashion as to suggest that many speakers share one right arm.
Instead, it shoud say the right arm of each of them,
which is WHAT IT ACTUALLY MEANS.





David



0 Replies
 
OmSigDAVID
 
  2  
Reply Sun 14 Sep, 2008 04:51 pm
U shoud mean what u say
and say what u MEAN.





David
JTT
 
  2  
Reply Sun 14 Sep, 2008 05:51 pm
@OmSigDAVID,
Quote:
In my decades on Earth, I have done a lot of writing.
Much of it was professional, wherein I had to tell a court
exactly what I had in mind; I ofen went out of my way
to make the same point several different ways, proving all of them.
I have always been guided in my articulation
by the concept that a reader shoud not have to * assume *
what I mean to tell him in my writing,
because I am sufficiently explicit (unless I consciously choose to be vague)
to make my meaning extremely clear to his mind.
Hence, I believe that no one shoud write
in such a fashion as to suggest that many speakers share one right arm.
Instead, it shoud say the right arm of each of them,
which is WHAT IT ACTUALLY MEANS.


That is all well and good, David, but we all know what it actually means. It wouldn't matter if someone went well out of their way to suggest that "many speakers share one right arm" for humans have enough sense to realize that many speakers cannot share one right arm.

The sentence in question does say 'the right arm of each of them" because it can't possibly say anything else.

Believe me, many native speakers would give their proverbial right arm to have the command of English that you both possess.

'their' means each individual's right arm. You know that it can't mean anything else.
OmSigDAVID
 
  2  
Reply Mon 15 Sep, 2008 01:03 pm
@JTT,
Quote:

That is all well and good, David, but we all know what it actually means.

That does not change the fact that we shoud not disgrace ourselves
in public by incorporating error and confusion into our writing;
instead, we shoud keep it clean and strictly logical,
the same as when u bake a beautiful Angel Food cake,
u do not throw in some dirt, along with the wholesome food,
on the theory that the eater's immunity system will be able to overcome
any resultant illness.



Quote:
It wouldn't matter if someone went well out of their way to suggest
that "many speakers share one right arm" for humans have enough sense
to realize that many speakers cannot share one right arm.

For the same reason that u don 't go out wearing dirty clothes, u shoud
not send your written thoughts out in public, in a state of confusion
on the theory that those who see u will make allowances for u.
IT MATTERS, in that u shoud not encourage people who see u
to have a lower opinion of u. U shoud not encourage people
to have contempt for your ability to reason.
If a person represents himself by including defects of reason
in his expression (such as saying "their right arm") then I wonder
where ELSE his analytical ability has proven to be insufficient;
i.e., I lose confidence in his ability to REASON accurately.
In other words, I suspect him of being a screw up.

If someone introduces such errors of form into a resume for a job,
he puts himself into a position of competitive disadvantage,
relative to applicants who express themselves with accurate logical precision,
thereby demonstrating strength of intellect,
saying what thay MEAN, not leaving the reader to figure it out for himself,
while he laffs in derision.
I KNOW, for a fact, that this has already HAPPENED, because I was
the one laffing in derision, along with my partner, when we were reading
resumes responsive to our newspaper ads for available jobs in our law firm.
Some were very good, sharp, attractive and demanding respect,
while others were bad jokes. About 30 years ago, I was the chairman
of New York Mensa's Scholarship Committee. Again, some of the
applications for scholarship money were foolish jokes, wasted efforts,
whereas others were very attractive. I remember that I had authority
to grant 3 scholarships, but I was having a terrible time in deciding
which of the best 4 essays of application I shoud eliminate.
All 4 were so good that I coud not find one against which to discriminate.
I was looking hard for an excuse to eliminate one of them
(such as awkward self-expression).

U shoud not say "their right arm" nor say:
"It wouldn't matter if someone [individual & singular] went well
out of their way [plural: where did the others come from ??] to suggest"
for the same reason that u shoud not write on dirty paper and send it out with your signature.




Quote:
The sentence in question does say 'the right arm of each of them"
because it can't possibly say anything else.

Most respectfully, that is a non sequitur.
Even if we assume that "it can't possibly say anything else"
the possibility remains that it expresses only confusion
and says nothing at all. The literal words on the paper determine
what it says; nothing else does.


Quote:

"Believe me, many native speakers would give their proverbial
right arm to have the command of English that you both possess.

'their' means each individual's right arm.
You know that it can't mean anything else.

" You know that it can't mean anything else " is NOT a rule of logic nor of grammar.
What u refer to when u use the word "mean" indicates
not what is on the paper, but rather the secret thoughts
in the author 's mind.

It strikes me as odd that u wish to defend and to preserve
the introduction of error into written expression.
I deem that to be very liberal and politically correct.





David
JTT
 
  2  
Reply Mon 15 Sep, 2008 06:07 pm
@OmSigDAVID,
Quote:
U shoud not say "their right arm" nor say:
"It wouldn't matter if someone [individual & singular] went well
out of their way [plural: where did the others come from ??] to suggest"
for the same reason that u shoud not write on dirty paper and send it out with your signature.


What would you suggest I say here, David?
OmSigDAVID
 
  1  
Reply Mon 15 Sep, 2008 07:35 pm
@JTT,
Quote:
Quote:
U shoud not say "their right arm" nor say:
"It wouldn't matter if someone [individual & singular] went well
out of their way [plural: where did the others come from ??] to suggest"
for the same reason that u shoud not write on dirty paper and send it out with your signature.



Quote:

What would you suggest I say here, David?


I suggest that u say:

1 ) " ... their right arms "

2 ) "It wouldn't matter if someone went well out of his or her way to suggest"





David
0 Replies
 
JTT
 
  1  
Reply Mon 15 Sep, 2008 08:48 pm
@tanguatlay,
Quote:
David wrote:
In my decades on Earth, I have done a lot of writing.
Much of it was professional, wherein I had to tell a court
exactly what I had in mind; ...


The reason that you were able to do this is because you unconsciously know the rules for your language. It doesn't necessarily entail that you consciously know the rules of English.

Quote:
I suggest that u say:

1 ) " ... their right arms "

2 ) "It wouldn't matter if someone went well out of his or her way to suggest"
Quote:


This illustrates that you are not consciously familiar with the rules of English.

What you've just shown us is that someone is not singular, nor is it individual. It doesn't refer to anyone specific, rather it refers any number of unnamed people. That it takes a singular verb is only a matter of convention.

It has nothing to do with political correctness or one's outlook on politics. It's simply a matter of some wag a few centuries ago misanalyzing English and unthinking folks following along.

It can refer to one person.

It wouldn't matter if someone went well out of his or her way to suggest pizza. Actually, she suggested pizza.

It can refer to more than one.

It wouldn't matter if someone went well out of his or her way to suggest pizza. Actually, they suggested pizza.

So since it can and does refer to more than one person, 'their' works just as well, better actually in most cases because it isn't as clunky as your suggestion, which does work well in certain circumstances.

It wouldn't matter if someone went well out of their way to suggest pizza. Actually, he/she/we/they suggested pizza.

Quote:
Singular "their" etc., was an accepted part of the English language before the 18th-century grammarians started making arbitrary judgements as to what is "good English" and "bad English", based on a kind of pseudo-"logic" deduced from the Latin language, that has nothing whatever to do with English. (See the 1975 journal article by Anne Bodine in the bibliography.) And even after the old-line grammarians put it under their ban, this anathematized singular "their" construction never stopped being used by English-speakers, both orally and by serious literary writers. So it's time for anyone who still thinks that singular "their" is so-called "bad grammar" to get rid of their prejudices and pedantry!

http://www.crossmyt.com/hc/linghebr/austheir.html


Everyone brought his knapsack.

Why would it be necessary for everyone, that is, all the people, to bring one guy's knapsack?

Everyone brought their knapsack. They all purchased them at LL Bean.

Makes much more sense, both grammatically and logically.

Everyone brought his knapsack. They all purchased them at LL Bean. ???

Why don't you have any problem with 'you' serving as both a plural and a singular?
0 Replies
 
 

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