But for the shoes

nagomi

Senior Member
Korean
"A story about success or a story about overcoming the odds or a story about being able to have a kind of level of greatness that you would not be able to have but for the shoes. And so when Michael Jordan puts his shoes out there, there is the idea that - it is very clear, right? So it says, be like Mike. It literally means that if I wear these shoes, I will sort of encapsulate some of that mystique because I am wearing the shoes as well."

What would be the meaning of this "for"? Can you swap it with something else?


source: I Buy, Therefore I Am: How Brands Become Part Of Who We Are
 
  • Franco-filly

    Senior Member
    English - Southern England
    I think the prior sentences are relevant here:

    VEDANTAM: So talk to me, Americus, about what's going on here. How can a pair of shoes feel like a legacy?
    REED: I think that it's very interesting, Shankar, because a pair of shoes, if positioned the right way, can encapsulate a story


    'but for' is a fixed terms meaning 'if it wasn't for [the shoes]' i.e. , in this context, if the shoes weren't part of the story.
     

    kentix

    Senior Member
    English - U.S.
    a kind of level of greatness that you would not be able to have but for the shoes = a kind of level of greatness that you would not be possible without the contribution made by the shoes
     

    nagomi

    Senior Member
    Korean
    I think the prior sentences are relevant here:

    VEDANTAM: So talk to me, Americus, about what's going on here. How can a pair of shoes feel like a legacy?
    REED: I think that it's very interesting, Shankar, because a pair of shoes, if positioned the right way, can encapsulate a story


    'but for' is a fixed terms meaning 'if it wasn't for [the shoes]' i.e. , in this context, if the shoes weren't part of the story.
    I agree with Tunaafi's idea that it's an alternative to "except for". What do you think? Shoes seem to be something that can grant a level of greatness without being able be really 'great'. I think "but for" here means 'you might not be able to, but you can if you have shoes.'
     

    kentix

    Senior Member
    English - U.S.
    It's not about shoes as a concept or a category or an item of clothing, it's about a specific brand of shoes, named after and promoted by Michael Jordan. It's the fact that they are Michael Jordan shoes that (supposedly) makes them special. If you have Michael Jordan's shoes then you can "be like Mike" and be successful and special. That's the idea they are talking about. They are suggesting your success will not happen if you don't have the shoes.

    a kind of level of greatness that you would not be able to have but for without the help of the shoes

    "except for" is another way to say the same idea.
     

    nagomi

    Senior Member
    Korean
    It's not about shoes as a concept or a category or an item of clothing, it's about a specific brand of shoes, named after and promoted by Michael Jordan. It's the fact that they are Michael Jordan shoes that (supposedly) makes them special. If you have Michael Jordan's shoes then you can "be like Mike" and be successful and special. That's the idea they are talking about. They are suggesting your success will not happen if you don't have the shoes.

    a kind of level of greatness that you would not be able to have but for without the help of the shoes

    "except for" is another way to say the same idea.
    I think "except for" is far from "if it weren't for" and wonder how those two completly different meanings can be in one.
     

    kentix

    Senior Member
    English - U.S.
    able to have a kind of level of greatness that you would not be able to have but for the shoes

    They are talking about a situation that wouldn't exist if it weren't for a certain special condition - having the shoes. In that context these all mean the same thing:

    If it weren't for the shoes (being there) the situation would not be special

    Except for the fact that the shoes were there
    But for the fact that shoes were there


    Except and but both indicate there's an exception created by a special condition - the presence of the shoes. If not for that exception, the situation would not be special.
     
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