abandon their abortive attempt

homotopy07

Senior Member
Japanese
Attacked by armed troops, the Chinese students had to abandon their abortive attempt to democratize Beijing peacefully.
[From Barron's BASIC WORD LIST.] (The coloring is mine.)

Question: Does the green part mean "abandon their so far unsuccessful attempt"?
 
  • kentix

    Senior Member
    English - U.S.
    I'm not sure those two words belong in the same sentence. As Newt says, it was the act of abandoning it that made it abortive.

    I would probably omit it.

    Attacked by armed troops, the Chinese students had to abandon their attempt to democratize Beijing peacefully.

    And use that word to talk about it in a historical sense.

    Years later, the abortive attempt is still well remembered.
     

    PaulQ

    Banned
    UK
    English - England
    I see
    students had to abandon their abortive attempt
    as
    (i) Probably wrong as the attempt was not abortive until they aborted it. They abandoned an attempt.
    (ii) The vague possibility that it is a figure of speech (whose name eludes me) in which an adjective that is apparently inappropriate has, in fact, an ironic meaning. An example might be:
    A man meets two strangers and is persuaded to accompany them. The reader/listener knows that the two men are murderers: "The two villains and the dead man walked out of the bar and into the night."​
     

    homotopy07

    Senior Member
    Japanese
    Thanks, kentix, Paul, and Edinburgher. :)

    (ii) The vague possibility that it is a figure of speech (whose name eludes me) in which an adjective that is apparently inappropriate has, in fact, an ironic meaning. An example might be:
    A man meets two strangers and is persuaded to accompany them. The reader/listener knows that the two men are murderers: "The two villains and the dead man walked out of the bar and into the night."​
    May I ask what you mean by ironic?
     

    PaulQ

    Banned
    UK
    English - England
    The man is not dead yet, but because the implication is that he soon will be, the adjective has been applied to him.
    Irony: (OED) The expression of one's meaning by using language that normally signifies the opposite, typically for humorous or emphatic effect
     
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