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Re: 'discrete'

Posted by Smokey Stover on February 16, 2004

In Reply to: Re: 'discrete' posted by Bob on February 15, 2004

: : : : : : : 1.What is a 'discrete' and countable noun?

: : : : : : : 2.What does the title 'The Other' mean?

: : : : : : : 3.I am puzzled by the usage of "ever" as a prefix. Sometimes it means "forever", as in "eversafe", sometimes "regular", as in "eversporting", and sometimes "continual" as in "ever-increasing" and the following example:
: : : : : : : "She wanted to retreat, but was reluctantly drwan into a ever-widening net of lies and passion as the dark and secret life of his late husband unraveled."

: : : : : : : Is there any fixed rules? Or we must use guesswork when we meet a new word of this kind?

: : : : : : : 4."when" or "where", which one is right here:

: : : : : : : "I've reached a point where/when I can work this difficult problem out.
: : : : : : : I've reached a point where/when a change is needed."

: : : : : : : Thanks a lot!

: : : : : : 'Children' is a *count noun*. It makes sense to ask how many children are on
: : : : : : the street, say, and then count them. In contrast 'water' is a *mass noun*.
: : : : : : It doesn't make sense to ask how many water are on the street.

: : : : : 3. If you substitue "continuously" for ever-, then all three uses of the prefix are similar. I'm not sure what distinction you see among them.
: : : : : 4. "Where" would be the more common use. The metaphor is usually (but not always) spatial. I think this is especially true since it is "I have" moved, meaning "you" perhaps have not. If it were temporal, "we" would have had the same amount of time passing. Hope that's not too theoretical.

: : : : 2. This, that and the other. Here, the other is everything else.
: : : : 4. It depends whether it is a point in time or a point in space.

: : : 2. "The Other" might mean something or someone that is different or alien. It might mean a second self in a person with multiple personalities. It's impossible to say what this title means without knowing more about the work that bears it.

: : But who can help me on the question of what is a 'discrete' noun? How can 'discrete' be used to describe a noun?

: Discrete and countable represent the same thing with regard to nouns. If something is countable, it's because it consists of separate, discrete units. This is how you know when to use "less" or "fewer." You have less fuel, but fewer kilograms of fuel. Less money, but fewer coins. Less consciousness, but fewer thoughts. Less freedom, but fewer liberties.

Say "point where" and "time when." "There comes a point where you have to say no." "There comes a time when you have to say no." The two expressions are not always interchangeable, but they are in this instance.

"The Other" is a well-received movie starring the late Uta Hagen, sometimes lumped with horror flicks, but better regarded as a psychological thriller. This title is one of the few places you might find the word "other" without a noun or pronoun modified by it close at hand. If you google "other" you will find many uses of it as an adjective, but probably only in this one example is it free-standing. Even so, one assumes that there is some noun that it modifies, if only implied; it is always an adjective.

"Ever" can be prefixed to another word, but what is meant by prefix is usually a part-word, like the "pre-" in prefix, that cannot stand independently as a word. (An affix is a part-word that can be attached either fore or aft.) "Ever" is an adverb, and refers to some aspect of time except in some extended uses. It can mean, according to context, "for all time," "all the time," "every time" or "at any time." Preceding an adjective (that is, in attributive position) it means "always" (= "all the time" or "for all time") or as close to that as natural limits permit. An ever-blooming rose might always be in bloom, but only from May or June through the end of the growing season (rather than in June and again in September). Similarly, an ever-bearing strawberry might bear fruit from June until the frost instead of just in June. An evergreen tree is always green, winter and summer, but only until the tree dies. When "ever" precedes an adjective the two words can be hyphenated, or joined in a compound word, depending mostly on preference and custom. "Forever" means for all time. "Whenever I come home, Fido dogs my footsteps" would mean "Every time I come home . . . ." A free-standing "ever" can be seen in phrases like "Did you ever think this would happen?" There it means "at any time" (which is an adverbial phrase). "Never" means, of course, "at NO time," sort of the opposite of "always." "When would you ever use that phrase?" might translate as "When in all eternity would you use that phrase?" "I would never use that phrase" means, of course, "At no time would I use that phrase." "Whatever did you mean by that?" means "What in all the expanse of eternity did you mean?" In this and similar cases it is used for emphasis, and is not necessarily really appropriate. It's a little like "What in blue blazes did you mean?" just as "Why ever did you do that?" is equivalent to "Why in the name of all that's holy did you do that?" It may not make literal sense, but its emphatic character is unmistakable. "Whatever happened to Jake?" is used instead of "What happened to Jake?" because the latter phrase suggests something that happened recently, something presumably noticeable (or on some specific occasion already named). "Whatever happened to Jake" may mean "I don't see him around any more. What became of him?" In this instance, we are setting a time frame that distinguishes the recent past from "at any time," or in the whole period of time since we last saw Jake--not forever, of course, but not just a little while, either. It could also mean "What the deuce happened to him? He looks terrible!" There are other instructive examples, particularly of uses as an intensifier, often in contexts which don't really refer to time, but in which the intensifying effect of "ever" is borrowed by analogy. ("Whatever you say!") The OED lists a number of these, but we are already a bit far afield.. SS