erstwhile/former - adjectives used as nouns ?

igée

Member
French France
Hello,

I´d like to know if these adjectives could be used as nouns and if they would make sense in the sentence I am trying to translate from french into english.

<-----French sentences removed by moderator (Florentia52)----->

A few years later, in the initial writings and the notes of his essay on the work of art, Benjamin asserts that modern technique - called here "second technique" in contrast to the erstwhile/former, linked to magic and ritual practices - is confronted with humanity as a second....

Thank you for all comments
 
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  • Hermione Golightly

    Senior Member
    British English
    This is the English only forum. No translation. You haven't given a source or context. Who is Benjamin, for example.

    A few years later, in the initial writings and the notes of his essay on the work of art, Benjamin asserts that modern technique - called here "second technique" in contrast to the erstwhile/former, linked to magic and ritual practices - is confronted with humanity as a second....
    I have no idea what this means but 'erstwhile' is not the right word. I can't say if 'former' is or not , because I can't work out what 'former' relates to. I probably would have found this piece of writing incomprehensible arty, mumbo-jumbo even if the original had been written in English.
    I am sorry not to be more helpful.
     

    igée

    Member
    French France
    Hermione Golightly,

    Benjamin is Walter Benjamin, a German philosopher. Here he calls modern technique "second techinique" in contrast to a former/erstwhile technique which was linked to magic and ritual practices.
    So I wanted to know if I could use the adjectives as nouns in order to avoid repetition and making my sentence too long (as the original in french is already 7 lines long!).

    It is indeed difficult to understand and I didn´t write the preceding sentence which could have helped.

    Anyway thank you for your reply!
     

    Andygc

    Senior Member
    British English
    You can use "former" as a noun, but this text has no antecedent for "former" to refer to. I've never seen "erstwhile" used as a noun, and if I saw it here I'd choke over trying to make sense of it.
     

    igée

    Member
    French France
    Thanks for your reply Andygc

    At least I´ll know for further translations that "former" can be used as a noun (althought it doesn´t apply in my context) unlike esrtwhile.
    I have rephrased the sentence like this, hoping it makes sense now:

    A few years later, in the initial writings and the notes of his essay on the work of art, Benjamin asserts that modern technique - called here "second technique" in contrast to its precedent, which was linked to magic and ritual practices - is confronted with humanity as a second....

    I chose "its precedent" since he (Benjamin) is speaking of a "second technique" there must have been a first one before ("the former" )
     
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