a red face, a longer tail, and dark-green neck, breast and stomach

Discussion in 'English Only' started by tagoot, Jun 3, 2017.

  1. tagoot

    tagoot Senior Member

    Chiba, Japan
    Japanese
    "The male and female (of the pheasant) appear very different. The male has a red face, a longer tail, and dark-green neck, breast and stomach, while the female is a light-brown color with black spots and a shorter tail."
    I found this sentence in an English textbook published in Japan.

    “Neck, breast and stomach” are all countable nouns. Why don’t you say “a dark-green neck, breast and stomach” in line with "a red face, a longer tail"?

    Thank you in advance.
     
  2. Barque Senior Member

    India
    Tamil
    Perhaps it's a typo.
     
  3. Hermione Golightly

    Hermione Golightly Senior Member

    London
    British English
    I think it should use 'a'.
     
  4. tagoot

    tagoot Senior Member

    Chiba, Japan
    Japanese
  5. bennymix

    bennymix Senior Member

    I'm not sure this sort of thing is an error--perhaps a glitch in style. Elision of an article (thereafter) is common, I believe, where the article is first stated.
    "The shotgun blast hit him in the neck and stomach.":tick:

    The other issue is the fact that three items are mentioned. So to say, it's like "The bird has a red face and [*] green areas (neck, breast, and stomach) of body feathers." :tick: No article at *.

    Just my opinion and taste (preference) in this matter, for what it's worth.
     
  6. velisarius

    velisarius Senior Member

    Greece
    British English (Sussex)
    I like the original version much more.

    The male and female (of the pheasant) appear very different. The male has a red face, a longer tail, and a dark-green neck, breast and stomach...

    It reads rather as though "neck, breast and stomach" is being seen as a unit.
     
  7. tagoot

    tagoot Senior Member

    Chiba, Japan
    Japanese
    bennymix, velisarius, thank you very much.

    The opinions of you two are enlightening and thought-provoking. I was surprised to know that even among native speakers opinions can differ on this sort of matter. I am glad I could hear these precious views of yours.

    Please see below the sentence I suggest as the safest. Is the original the best? I would appreciate if you would let me hear your opinion.
    The male has a red face, a longer tail, and dark-green areas in the neck, breast and stomach, […]
     
  8. RM1(SS)

    RM1(SS) Senior Member

    Connecticut
    English - US (Midwest)
    It depends -- is it really three different dark-green areas, separated by bands of some other colour, or is it a single area?
     
  9. tagoot

    tagoot Senior Member

    Chiba, Japan
    Japanese
    RM1(SS), thank you for responding.

    Please see below a photo of a male pheasant.
    キジ(オス)[25357001388]| 写真素材・ストックフォト・イラスト素材|アマナイメージズ

    Although the upper neck has a tinge of blue, the front side from the neck through legs(a single area) seems to be dark-green. I was not sure about this.

    Can I write as below in this case? Which is better?
    A) The male has a red face, a longer tail, and a dark-green area in the neck, breast and stomach, […]
    or
    B) The male has a red face, a longer tail, and a dark-green area from the neck, breast through stomach, […]
     
  10. RM1(SS)

    RM1(SS) Senior Member

    Connecticut
    English - US (Midwest)
    I would say "extending from the neck to the stomach."
     
  11. PaulQ

    PaulQ Senior Member

    UK
    English - England
    This is a common construction: after repeating "a <noun1>, a <noun2>, a <noun3>" the pattern is established and the "a" qualifying subsequent nouns undergoes ellipsis -> the "a" is implied from the previous "a"s.
     
  12. bennymix

    bennymix Senior Member

    Perhaps I was unclear, but that's what I meant to say, above. :)

     
  13. PaulQ

    PaulQ Senior Member

    UK
    English - England
    My apologies: I did not read every post - great minds, etc.
     
  14. JulianStuart

    JulianStuart Senior Member

    Sonoma County CA
    English (UK then US)
    (Let's ignore the fact that part of the neck is blue)

    We'd all be OK with "... and dark-green legs." because legs is plural. Seeing "neck, breast and stomach" as three things also qualifies as "plural"?
     
  15. PaulQ

    PaulQ Senior Member

    UK
    English - England
    Yes,
    No. Not for that reason. :)

    The male has a red face, a longer tail, and [ellipsed 'a'] dark-green neck, [ellipsed 'and'] [ellipsed 'a dark green'] breast and [no article] green legs,
     
  16. tagoot

    tagoot Senior Member

    Chiba, Japan
    Japanese
    I express my sincere appreciation for every great mind who have contributed to this thread.

    Could someone show me an example or two that uses this construction, or reference in grammar books regarding this point?
     
  17. PaulQ

    PaulQ Senior Member

    UK
    English - England
    "The policeman, [ellipsed 'the'] doctor and [ellipsed 'the'] business man were watching a cat, [ellipsed 'a'] dog and [ellipsed 'a'] squirrel that were fighting in the garden."

    We know there is ellipsis as all singular countable nouns require a qualifying determiner. A determiner (a/an, the, this, that, any, my, which, whose, etc.) is simply a specialised adjective and we know that adjectives can be ellipsed:

    The room was decorated in only two colours - pale yellow walls contrasted with grey carpets, [ellipsed grey'] curtains and [ellipsed grey'] armchairs. (NB this is a use of plural countable nouns and so no article is needed.)

    There is an article on ellipsis in Wikipedia. Ellipsis (linguistics) - Wikipedia It is written in very technical English but it does have examples.
     
    Last edited: Jun 7, 2017
  18. tagoot

    tagoot Senior Member

    Chiba, Japan
    Japanese
    The examples you gave are highly valuable for me.
    Thank you, PaulQ, for another very helpful piece of information from you.

    I thank all the contributors once again.
     

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