established its embryonic form of the present-day metropolis

NewAmerica

Banned
Mandarin
Is the following sentence clear to you native English speakers? I made it based on a Chinese version and it seems to be crystal clear to me. Yet I am not sure that you native speakers would understand it at first sight.;)

The basic question here is whether the collocation of "established" and "embryonic form" is acceptable in English.

This fishing town, on the delta where in those old days the Düssel River ran into the Rhine River, established its embryonic form of the present-day metropolis about 800 years ago.


Thanks in advance
 
Last edited:
  • Dretagoto

    Senior Member
    Inglés británico
    It's understandable to me, but I would swap the positions of "its" and "the": ..."established the embryonic form of its present-day..."

    I'm not comfortable with "established" as you've used it, though - normally we would say something "was established". As you have it, it reads like the town established itself, which doesn't make much sense.
     

    pob14

    Senior Member
    American English
    It makes me wonder why the Düssel stopped running into the Rhine, and that "its" strikes me as strange, but I think I get the sense of it: that some city was once a fishing town, but started growing larger about 800 years ago. Is that right?

    Crossposted.
     

    Juhasz

    Senior Member
    English - United States
    "Established its embryonic form" works pretty well in English. I'm a little stricter with my metaphors than some others, so I'd say that we typically don't "establish" living things.* You could "develop" and embryo.


    *We do, however, establish groups of living things: e.g. "establish a colony of bacteria." In that case, the analogy works because colonies are certainly established. On the other hand, you could not establish a bacterium.
     

    NewAmerica

    Banned
    Mandarin
    It's understandable to me, but I would swap the positions of "its" and "the": ..."established the embryonic form of its present-day..."
    Good idea.

    I'm not comfortable with "established" as you've used it, though - normally we would say something "was established". As you have it, it reads like the town established itself, which doesn't make much sense.
    But I don't know how to use "was established" in the sentence because "established the embryonic form" works yet "was established the embryonic form" appears not working.
     

    NewAmerica

    Banned
    Mandarin
    It makes me wonder why the Düssel stopped running into the Rhine, and that "its" strikes me as strange, but I think I get the sense of it: that some city was once a fishing town, but started growing larger about 800 years ago. Is that right?

    Crossposted.
    Exactly! :)
     

    NewAmerica

    Banned
    Mandarin
    "Established its embryonic form" works pretty well in English. I'm a little stricter with my metaphors than some others, so I'd say that we typically don't "establish" living things.* You could "develop" and embryo.
    But can a town develop it embryonic form?
     

    NewAmerica

    Banned
    Mandarin
    New version based on your opinions. It is more natural of course but does it need further improvement?

    This fishing town, on the delta where in those old days the Düssel River ran into the Rhine River, developed the embryonic form of its present-day metropolis about 800 years ago.
     

    Juhasz

    Senior Member
    English - United States
    I like the new version. It seems to suggest that the little fishing village gave birth to the large city. That seems like a reasonable idea - and it's well described with this figurative language.
     

    NewAmerica

    Banned
    Mandarin
    I like the new version. It seems to suggest that the little fishing village gave birth to the large city. That seems like a reasonable idea - and it's well described with this figurative language.
    :thumbsup:

    I wonder whether "fishing town" = "fishing village."
     

    Juhasz

    Senior Member
    English - United States
    Oh, sorry about that. I wasn't reading carefully. As this ngram shows (Google Ngram Viewer) "fishing village" is much more common than "fishing town," which is why I typed that, but you can use either.
     

    Dretagoto

    Senior Member
    Inglés británico
    "Fishing village" would be the much more common term - it suggests a small settlement with a single industry. "Fishing town" sounds much less natural.
     

    Edinburgher

    Senior Member
    German/English bilingual
    None of the corrections which you've suggested really address the key objection raised in #2 that a village/town/whatever can't establish itself as the embryonic form of something, when it already is the embryonic form.
    I think the key ideas are that:
    * the fishing village/town was established about 800 years ago,
    * it was located on the Düssel delta,
    * and it was the embryonic form of the present-day metropolis of Düsseldorf.

    You don't need two time references "in those old days" and "about 800 years ago", so one of them (preferably the former) should be dropped.

    My suggestion: This fishing town, which was established about 800 years ago on the delta where the Düssel River ran into the Rhine, was the embryonic form of the present-day metropolis.
     

    NewAmerica

    Banned
    Mandarin
    My suggestion: This fishing town, which was established about 800 years ago on the delta where the Düssel River ran into the Rhine, was the embryonic form of the present-day metropolis.
    It is obviously a good suggestion.

    According to Britannica, Düsseldorf was chartered in 1288 by the count of Berg. That is about 800 years ago.

    Yet before the establishment, the small village had had its long unmentioned history - probably thousands of years, there tribes went farming and fishing. In those old days, people enjoyed the beauty and tranquility of the delta, where the Düssel River ran into the Rhine River. I think it is possible that the German writer (the Chinese version is no doubt based on the original German version) wanted to impress readers with the time-honored beauty and tranquility by using "in those old days." More context will be required to confirm this, of course. :)
     

    Edinburgher

    Senior Member
    German/English bilingual
    "In the delta" sounds better to me.
    I'm inclined to agree.

    Mind you, calling it a delta at all is somewhat erroneous. We talk of deltas where large rivers diverge near where they flow into a larger body of water (typically the sea). The Düssel is not a large river and probably does not even deserve to be called a river at all. It is more of a brook, or what we in Scotland call a burn. I rather doubt whether it can really be said to have a delta, and use of this word may be an artefact of the translation process from German to Chinese and then to English. I presume the original author would have used a form of words that described the vicinity of, or the area around, where the Düssel enters the Rhine.
    More context will be required to confirm this, of course.
    Indeed. A source would not go amiss either. :)
    It seems that the 1288 charter, which granted town status to what was previously a mere village is being thought of as establishing in embryonic form the town which is now a major city.
    There is scope for confusion here because we can also talk about the village having been "established" much earlier, and also being an "embryonic" form of what it was to turn into.
     
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