celebration goes on until late at night

Discussion in 'English Only' started by danielxu85, Oct 25, 2010.

  1. danielxu85 Senior Member

    Mandarin Chinese
    I would like to seek your opinion of the following sentence. Is it idiomatic? Is it communicating what I want to?
    Why can't the celebration go on until late at night?

    Here is the context:
    There is a reading passage about the Independence Day Celebration in the United States. The passage says that the celebration usually ends at around 9pm, because people have to work the next day.

    Four of my American friends said that they could not answer the question based on the information provided in the passage. They thought that the question was not phrased idiomatically, but they could not pinpoint the reason why. In their mind, the question is asking why the celebration STARTS at midnight?

    In my Chinese mind, go on= continue, until= through, so the question is asking why the celebration can't continue until very late.

    I humbly seek your advice. If you agree with my American friends, could you please tell me WHY the sentence is not idiomatic and how you would ask the question in a natural-sounding way.
  2. ewie

    ewie Senior Member

    Another Country
    English English
    I completely agree with you, Daniel ... and completely disagree with your American friends.

    Mind you, I presume that they're reading 'go on' as meaning 'start'. I wouldn't ever use go on to mean 'start' when talking about a celebration.

    Though I can think of one or two instances where I might use it that way.
  3. City Slicker Member

    English (USA)
    I think what you're trying to say would best be expressed as
    "celebration goes on until late into the night" this infers that the celebration continues on into the late night hours.
  4. .ani. New Member

    German, English
    I think the problem is that it's just too defined, if that makes sense. You ask a serious question for the purpose of A. the reasons and B. the debate (as far as I understand). Debate there sounds far too argumentative like "hey, carry on after 9 or else!" but really I just mean "well, why does it have to be that way?". As for too defined, I mean that you explain your point exactly but the detail is not needed. For instance, you say "until late at night" when you really mean anything at all beyond the already designated time.

    I would definitely prefer something like "why does the party have to stop at 9?" it's short, but maybe too accusitive. It may just be the advertisers I work for, they need everything to be short and punchy, except women because they have me for that. :D

    I hope that helped, if it didn't then I must admit I'm not surprised.
    Last edited: Oct 25, 2010
  5. Myridon

    Myridon Senior Member

    English - US
    As an American, I have no problem with the original sentence. If I strain very hard, I think I can see the meaning your four friends came up with for "go on": "The first musical act does not go on (to the stage) until 10pm." However, it doesn't fit the context (celebrations do not "go on stage" and the 4th of July doesn't really have a starting time) so I don't see why they would be stuck on it and not see the obvious alternative that the rest of us can see.
  6. JamesM

    JamesM à la Mod (English Only)

    I think Myridon's guess is the best possibility for the confusion, but I agree with him and the others. I think City Slicker's rephrasing is more natural but I don't see a real problem with gleaning the meaning from the original.

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