detect a projectile fired toward...

< Previous | Next >

JungKim

Senior Member
Korean
A CNN news report says:
South Korean forces along the demilitarized zone detect a projectile, likely a rocket, fired toward a South Korean loudspeaker system. The South Koreans respond with 36 artillery shells.
In the first sentence, what exactly was detected?
Is it the projectile that was fired toward a South Korean loudspeaker system?
Or is it the event of the projectile being fired toward a South Korean loudspeaker system?
 
  • entangledbank

    Senior Member
    English - South-East England
    A projectile. It could have detected an event, but the grammar would be slightly different:

    detect a projectile . . . was fired toward . . . [= detect that a projectile was fired toward]

    We don't say a projectile fired, so it didn't detect that a projectile fired. (We do say a cannon or a gun fired, but not the projectile in it.) So 'fired', without 'was', is a passive participle being used as a modifier:

    detect a projectile, fired toward . . . [= detect a projectile, which was fired toward]
     

    JungKim

    Senior Member
    Korean
    Thanks, entangledbank.
    I also think that the "fired" in the news report is a past participle.
    But how does that necessarily entail that it is not the event of the projectile being fired but the projectile itself that was detected?

    For example, when you say "I saw a rocket fired", the "fired" here is also a past participle. But what I saw is not the rocket itself but the event of the rocket being fired. No?
     

    entangledbank

    Senior Member
    English - South-East England
    You're right, it could be that. So I'm going to have to go out and get some lunch (because I'm hungry) and think about that one.
     

    entangledbank

    Senior Member
    English - South-East England
    Okay, here's the thing. Only some verbs allow that structure. First let's use a plain form 'explode':

    I saw/heard/noticed/watched/observed/witnessed the rocket explode.
    I :cross:detected/:cross:recorded/:cross:confirmed/:cross:counted the rocket(s) explode. ['counted' a bit silly if only one rocket]

    Then everyone can use the ing-form:
    I saw/noticed/detected/counted/etc. the rocket(s) exploding.

    But the passive/past participle is more restricted. I'm unsure of my judgements here, but in any case it's a lot less free:

    I saw the rocket fired.
    ? I watched the rocket fired.
    :cross:/? I noticed the rocket fired.
    :cross: I detected the rocket fired.
     

    Myridon

    Senior Member
    English - US
    The military can detect the physical projectile using radar anywhere along its path. What am I detecting if I detect the event and how am I doing that? Do I see someone push a button? Do I hear the sound?
     

    JungKim

    Senior Member
    Korean
    The military can detect the physical projectile using radar anywhere along its path. What am I detecting if I detect the event and how am I doing that? Do I see someone push a button? Do I hear the sound?
    The nature of detecting something is clearly not the same as that of seeing something or hearing something in person. That said, when the military uses radar to detect a projectile, which by definition is something fired through the air, they detect the presence of a projectile "by sending out pulses of radio waves which are reflected off the object (e.g., the projectile) back to the source." Now, when they detect the presence of a projectile while it's flying through the air using radar this way, why shouldn't they be considered as detecting the event of the projectile being fired and flying through the air?
     
    Last edited:

    neal41

    Senior Member
    USA, English
    I will simplify the sentence: "They detect a projectile fired toward X."

    This sentence can be a shortened form of either of the following two sentences:
    1) They detect a projectile which was fired toward X.
    2) They detect a projectile being fired toward X.

    1) clearly refers to the projectile. 2) refers to the event. The event might produce a loud noise or a flash of light, either of which might be detectable. Radar would detect the projectile for some period of time after it was fired or launched.

    I think it is common to omit 'which was' in 1) but much less common to omit 'being' in 2). I am making a judgement about English syntax. Hence I think your sentence refers to the projectile and not to the event.
     

    Myridon

    Senior Member
    English - US
    the event of the projectile being fired and flying through the air?
    The event of firing is a single moment in time not the flying through the air. The firing is finished, complete, done when the missile is flying through the air. When it is flying through the air, you may assume that it was fired, but you cannot detect the firing because that happened in the past. It is too late to detect that event. You can only detect the result of that event, not the event itself.
     

    JungKim

    Senior Member
    Korean
    The event of firing is a single moment in time not the flying through the air. The firing is finished, complete, done when the missile is flying through the air. When it is flying through the air, you may assume that it was fired, but you cannot detect the firing because that happened in the past. It is too late to detect that event. You can only detect the result of that event, not the event itself.
    Thanks for your insight. Then, can you say, "South Korean forces along the demilitarized zone detect a projectile, likely a rocket, having been fired toward a South Korean loudspeaker system."?
     

    neal41

    Senior Member
    USA, English
    [QUOTE="JungKim, post: 15484162, member: 589132"Then, can you say, "South Korean forces along the demilitarized zone detect a projectile, likely a rocket, having been fired toward a South Korean loudspeaker system."?[/QUOTE]
    I think your sentence is OK.
     
    < Previous | Next >
    Top