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Remains [of a castle: correct word?]

Discussion in 'English Only' started by weristich, Jul 16, 2011.

  1. weristich Senior Member

    US and English
    Hi everyone,

    I was wondering which sounded better.

    The remains of the medieval moated castle were incorporated into the large-scale building, began in 1534 under Count Adolf XI, later the Archbishop of Cologne.

    Or:

    The surviving parts of the medieval moated castle...

    When I hear remains, I often think of a dead body and not a building. Basically the only parts left standing were a few base walls of the castle and the gate house.

    Thanks in advance.
     
  2. se16teddy

    se16teddy Senior Member

    London
    English - England
    For the reason you give, weristich, I think that remains is a more colourful and therefore better word here, assuming that your aim is to catch the reader's attention and imagination.
     
  3. Scholiast

    Scholiast Senior Member

    Reading, UK
    English - UK
    Greetings, Weristich
    This is a matter of fine judgment. Both "remains" and "surviving parts" make sense, but "remains" has the advantage of brevity, and "surviving parts" (with the present participle) conveys a slight ambiguity: "Those parts of the mediaeval structure which still survive...", when I am sure you meant "Those parts of the...castle which still remained in 1534...".
    me iudice, therefore, it is better to stick with "remains", or "What was left of the...castle was incorporated..."
     
  4. Parla Senior Member

    New York City
    English - US
    P.S.: "Began" should be begun.
     
  5. weristich Senior Member

    US and English
    I liked remains as well. I just kept thinking of a body whenever I read over the sentence.
     
  6. Scholiast

    Scholiast Senior Member

    Reading, UK
    English - UK
    'Begun' indeed - Parla's eagle-eyed comment is quite right.
     
  7. Cagey post mod

    California
    English - US
    I do too, although clearly 'remains' is an acceptable option.

    We now have a thesaurus, and you might want to look at its list of English synonyms.

    (I searched for 'ruins' in order to select out the relevant sense of 'remains'.)
     
  8. jmichaelm Senior Member

    NJ, USA
    American English
    "Remains" sounds better to me, but why wouldn't you say "ruins", the usual word for the last bits of a structure still standing?
     
  9. JulianStuart

    JulianStuart Senior Member

    Sonoma County CA
    English (UK then US)
    Well, it's a fine judgement indeed. Unless the castle has since been destroyed so the parts in question are no longer extant, they were surviving parts then, and they survive to this day:D The potential for ambiguity is quite small, though. I think "surviving parts" in a description of what happened in 1534 could be read without much difficulty as "the parts that had survived until 1534"
     
  10. GreenWhiteBlue

    GreenWhiteBlue Senior Member

    New York
    USA - English
    Because "ruins" and "remains" are not the same thing. To say the "ruins" of the building indicates that the portion was not in use, and had decayed. It is common, though, for some part of an older building to still be usable, and in good repair -- and thus they are not ruins.
     
  11. JulianStuart

    JulianStuart Senior Member

    Sonoma County CA
    English (UK then US)
    But you could use the remaining foundations from some old ruins to restore a castle to a functional state!
     
  12. grubble

    grubble Senior Member

    South of England, UK
    British English
    For the very reason that this confusion is possible, I would choose "surviving parts".
     
  13. PaulQ

    PaulQ Senior Member

    UK
    English - England
    Another vote for 'surviving parts'.
     
  14. k-in-sc

    k-in-sc Senior Member

    Or "remnants."
     
  15. PaulQ

    PaulQ Senior Member

    UK
    English - England
    Remnants are quite small, bits of castles tend to be big.
     
  16. k-in-sc

    k-in-sc Senior Member

    "Remnants" sounds natural to me, and apparently to quite a few other people as well.

    "the remnants of the castle"
    About 791,000 results
    http://www.google.com/search?sourceid=chrome&ie=UTF-8&q="the+remnants+of+the+castle"

    Examples:
    Listowel Castle - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
    en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Listowel_Castle - Cached
    Today, the remnants of the castle include two of its four towers, which are joined by a heavy curtain wall, and the unusual feature of an arch below the ...

    The Source - Google Books Result
    books.google.com/books?isbn=0449211479...
    James A. Michener - 1983 - Fiction - 1088 pages
    ... none so spectacular as the remnants of the castle but all of a nature that sent the history of Makor rocketing backwards, so that after these items were ...
     
  17. Copperknickers Senior Member

    Scotland - Scots and English
    I'd say remnants. Remains is a bit macabre to me.
     
  18. PaulQ

    PaulQ Senior Member

    UK
    English - England
    http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/remnant
    –noun
    1. a remaining, usually small part, quantity, number, or the like.
    2. a fragment or scrap.
    3. a small, unsold or unused piece of cloth, lace, etc., as at the end of a bolt.

    I usually associate remnant with 3 as my mother did a lot of sewing.

    I'm not saying that it can't be used but...
     
  19. k-in-sc

    k-in-sc Senior Member

    Yes, "remnant" works for the tail end of a bolt of fabric too.
     
  20. exgerman Senior Member

    NYC
    English but my first language was German
    Remnants is good. So is vestiges.
     

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