for him to translate them

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for him to translate them

Post by navi » Thu Oct 23, 2014 1:58 pm

1-I sent him the documents so that he would translate them.
2-I sent him the documents so that he might translate them.
3-I sent him the documents so that he should translate them.
4-I sent him the documents so that he could translate them.

5-I sent him the documents for him to translate them.

Is there any difference whatsoever in the meanings of these sentences?

Gratefully,
Navi.
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Re: for him to translate them

Post by Phil White » Sun Oct 26, 2014 10:07 pm

As far as I see it, none are natural.
I sent him the documents to translate.
Believe me. I use the construction every day of my working life.

Your 4 is the only one that I might conceivably use.

2 is archaic.

1 and 3 are decidedly odd.

5 has a "him" and a "them" too many.
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Re: for him to translate them

Post by Erik_Kowal » Mon Oct 27, 2014 12:24 am

Phil's right.
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Re: for him to translate them

Post by Wizard of Oz » Mon Oct 27, 2014 12:35 am

.. I wonder what the purpose of the exercises being set for, in this case navi, ESL learners is .. they seem to me to confuse the situation and put into written form impossible sentences that are so often identified as being nonsense or clumsy constructions .. is this a Sesame Street One-of-these-things-is-not-like-the others exercise? ..

WoZ easily confused
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Re: for him to translate them

Post by JerrySmile » Tue Oct 28, 2014 1:39 pm

Phil White wrote: 1 and 3 are decidedly odd.
Hi, Phil,

Why exactly is that?

We find in recent fiction, similar to 1 and even 3 (OK, the third reference is 1982, still not so old, not Trollope :-)):
---
Lugosi: His Life in Films, on Stage, and in the Hearts of Horror Lovers - Page 288
Gary Don Rhodes - 1997

In one interview, Lugosi claimed to have avoided Hungarians for a time so that he would translate his thoughts only into English.
---
Raven and the Golden Eagle
Lauretta Beaver

Golden Eagle looked towards Giant Bear so that he would translate. He had understood most of it, but not all.
---
The House of Phalo: A History of the Xhosa People in the Days of Their ...- Page 186
Jeffrey B. Peires - 1982

So when Tshiwo died, he left three younger brothers Hleke, Mdange and Gwali; and he left the affairs of the kingdom in charge of Mdange, so that he should be chief and guard the nation.
---

Certainly, I find your suggested sentence more direct and modern, but is there something else? Are 1 and 3 incorrect in principle, or obsolete in business speech?

Thanks.
Last edited by JerrySmile on Tue Oct 28, 2014 1:54 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: for him to translate them

Post by Phil White » Tue Oct 28, 2014 1:51 pm

The difference is straightforward. Your sample sentences carry an entirely different meaning from the original proposed sentence. They have little or nothing to do with each other.
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Re: for him to translate them

Post by JerrySmile » Tue Oct 28, 2014 1:57 pm

Phil White wrote:The difference is straightforward. Your sample sentences carry an entirely different meaning from the original proposed sentence. They have little or nothing to do with each other.
Sorry, please illuminate me :-)
I only see the same constructs "so that he /would/should/could/might/ do smth."
Are they obsolete to you?
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Re: for him to translate them

Post by Phil White » Tue Oct 28, 2014 2:57 pm

Of course they are not obsolete. They are inappropriate to the intended meaning.
  1. *Barman, please give me something so that I can drink it.
  2. *Barman, please give me something so that I will drink it.
  3. *Barman, please give me something so that I may drink it.
  4. *Barman, please give me something for me to drink it.
According to your reasoning, the existence of the constructions "so that + <subject> + can + do something" and so on makes all the above correct. The fact is that the constructions simply cannot mean what they are intended to. They are little short of gibberish.

Putting the constructions into the more familiar context of asking for a drink reveals just how inappropriate they are. Navi's originals are no less inappropriate, just set in a more formal, less familiar context, where the inappropriateness is a little harder to pin down.
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Re: for him to translate them

Post by JerrySmile » Tue Oct 28, 2014 3:44 pm

Hi, Phil,
Phil White wrote:Of course they are not obsolete. They are inappropriate to the intended meaning.
  1. *Barman, please give me something so that I can drink it.
  2. *Barman, please give me something so that I will drink it.
  3. *Barman, please give me something so that I may drink it.
  4. *Barman, please give me something for me to drink it.
According to your reasoning, the existence of the constructions "so that + <subject> + can + do something" and so on makes all the above correct. The fact is that the constructions simply cannot mean what they are intended to. They are little short of gibberish.

Putting the constructions into the more familiar context of asking for a drink reveals just how inappropriate they are. Navi's originals are no less inappropriate, just set in a more formal, less familiar context, where the inappropriateness is a little harder to pin down.
Are they culturally inappropriate, in that they are acceptable only in formal contexts?

Would you then reject these samples too, which refer to drinking?

---
Underworld Unsaved- Page 36
Preview

"Now drink it or be the little chickenshit that you are and hand it to me so that I can drink it!” That was the last straw. I scowled at her, pinched my nose, and downed the whole cup in one go
---
West African Folk Tales- Page 114
Hugh Vernon-Jackson - 2012 - ‎Preview - ‎More editions

“Prepare a sweet drink from it so that I can drink it today.”
---

Sorry for the language in the first :-)

Thanks again.
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Re: for him to translate them

Post by Phil White » Tue Oct 28, 2014 4:37 pm

It has little to do with cultural issues or register. Is it not enough that three native speakers in this thread have indicated that the sentences are bizarre?

But if you want an off-the-cuff attempt at a grammatical analysis, here it is:

I was at pains above to avoid saying that the sentences were ungrammatical. Navi's sample sentences and my samples all appear to be grammatically sound, and it is moot whether they actually are.

The sentences (Navi's sentences 1-4) all take the form:
<subject> + <ditransitive verb> + <indirect object> + "the" + <direct object> + "so that" + <pronoun with indirect object as referent> + <auxiliary verb> + <verb> + <pronoun with direct object as referent>

Sentence 5 is similar in structure.

That alone should indicate where the problem lies. The second clause contains two pronouns referring to the two objects of the first clause. This makes the entire utterance appear circular. As I say, it is moot whether the entire utterance is grammatical. It may follow the "rules" of grammar, but we simply would not tend to use it (although I never claimed that the sentences would never, under any circumstances be used, just that they were "distinctly odd").

None of Jerry's original examples feature this double referencing of the two objects of a ditransitive verb, and hence are entirely irrelevant.

I did say that I could conceive of using Navi's sentence 4: "I sent him the documents so that he could translate them." Or, slightly amended: "I sent Harry the documents so that he could translate them." In this special case, where I am stressing that I want a particular person to do something, the construction appears to work.

This exception also applies to Jerry's example "Now drink it or be the little chickenshit that you are and hand it to me so that I can drink it." It only works with heavy stress on the "I".

I have built myself a grammatical argument so that I am able to stand by it. (Does this sentence mean: a ...)
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Re: for him to translate them

Post by JerrySmile » Tue Oct 28, 2014 5:28 pm

Hi, Phil,
Phil White wrote: The second clause contains two pronouns referring to the two objects of the first clause. This makes the entire utterance appear circular.
Ah, too bad you didn't say just this from the beginning :-)

Now, it's all very clear. It's enough for me.
You are absolutely right, and I never said you were not, but wanted a pointed reason such as this.

Thanks a lot.
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Re: for him to translate them

Post by Phil White » Tue Oct 28, 2014 7:10 pm

Intuitively knowing that the sentences grate and being able to provide a well-founded reason why they grate are two different things. I know that I know (sic) that the sentences sound wrong, but I am not entirely certain that the purely structural argument I have provided is entirely conclusive, or indeed valid. It seems to make some sense to me, but I feel that there are also other purely semantic reasons why the samples all sound ill-formed. Something to do with intention and result, but I cannot put my finger on it.

The key issue is that grammaticality is no guarantor of clear communication, nor of acceptability. I think that all the sentences are grammatically well-formed in a strict sense, but even allowing that the semantics may also be correct, this appears to be insufficient to make the sentences acceptable. My attempt to get behind that intuition is pure guesswork. My guesswork may be entirely wrong. My intuition is not.

As a rule, I believe that there are identifiable reasons why things sound wrong to native speakers, but that these reasons are often obscure, illogical and even self-contradictory. Many of these reasons go to make up the perceived rules of grammar, and the totality of these reasons go to make up native intuition. Many, like in this example, are so obscure that it is barely worth the effort tracking them down. I'm usually up for it, but it's untrodden ground and it ain't going to contribute a great deal to the great trove of human understanding, even if I do, occasionally, turn out to be right.

But collectively confirmed intuition is never wrong, and "it's just the way it is" is compelling.

In other words, I can't afford the time to think about this stuff in detail every time.
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Re: for him to translate them

Post by Wizard of Oz » Wed Oct 29, 2014 2:19 am

.. Phil & Jerry .. first up let me say that Phil's comments re native speakers strikes a chord with me and some friends who happened to be staying at my place when I was reading WW .. none of them have an english grammar/linguistic background but all are educated users of english .. all agree with Phil's original explanation ..

.. now for my observation >>

1-I sent him the documents so that he would translate them.}
2-I sent him the documents so that he might translate them.}
3-I sent him the documents so that he should translate them.}
4-I sent him the documents so that he could translate them.}

.. removing "that" from all of the sentences and adding emphasis makes all of them acquire
meaning ..

1. There is a definite need for "him" to be the person required to do the translation
2. There is a suggestion that a final decision to translate or not to translate will be taken by "him"
3. The act of receiving the document places an onus on "him" that he will probably respond to
(Note: If "he" is accented them it can have a similar meaning to 1.)
4. This is the most straightforward sentence with an action having a direct expected consequence

.. and agreed Phil you are the one who so often does the explaining ..

WoZ trying to translate the sentences into meaning
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Re: for him to translate them

Post by JerrySmile » Wed Oct 29, 2014 2:08 pm

Thank you Wizard and Phil again.
The secret is in the cooking, I guess :-)
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