a/the ruffian / (the) fellow

VicNicSor

Banned
Russian
- Send four of your men to Halfmoon Street. Let them make a thorough search for a ruffian as just described by Mr Yang. Fellow is left-handed.
The Emperor's Pearl by Robert van Gulik

Mr Yang just described a specific offender. The speaker wants the four men to find this offender. Why is he using in the former case article "a", and in the latter -- zero article. I'd expect in both cases "the".
Thanks.
 
  • srk

    Senior Member
    English - US
    "A ruffian as just described" is like "a ruffian of the kind just described." I think "Fellow" with no article is just a hurried version of "The fellow."
     

    Loob

    Senior Member
    English UK
    Hi Vik:)

    I think the idea in the second sentence is "... make a thorough search for a ruffian." "What sort of ruffian?" "The sort just described by Mr Yang."

    As regards the third sentence, I'm sure that the basic construction is "The fellow is left-handed". It's just that, in casual speech, the word "the" has been dropped.


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    EDIT: cross-posted with srk, and agreeing with him.
     

    VicNicSor

    Banned
    Russian
    :)
    Do I correctly understand the speaker wants to find any man that falls under the description given by Mr Yang, not the particular offender Mr Yand dealt with? (and that's why he says "a ruffian"). If so, that sounds illogical, because the speaker specifies that the man is "left-handed".
     

    srk

    Senior Member
    English - US
    Judge Dee wants to find the man. His instructions to the coroner are for his men to find any man fitting the description. (I think that's logical.) He has no choice other than "the fellow" to describe the one man he's after. (I suppose he could have said "Look for a man who's left-handed, but he didn't.)
     
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