had begun a slow death

VicNicSor

Banned
Russian
— By the late sixties, the more extreme caricatures had begun a slow death. But did this mean an end to the more subtle forms of racial stereotyping?
Ethnic Notions, fim

Does this make sense to you? "To begin death":confused:
Thanks.
 
  • pachanga7

    Senior Member
    English - US
    I think it is understandable but not a typical collocation.

    We might rather expect to see:

    Began a slow decline
    Began to die away

    I think the author may have phrased it the way they did to emphasize the finality of the caricatures’ disappearance.
     

    Steven David

    Senior Member
    Standard General American English USA
    — By the late sixties, the more extreme caricatures had begun a slow death. But did this mean an end to the more subtle forms of racial stereotyping?
    Ethnic Notions, fim

    Does this make sense to you? "To begin death":confused:
    Thanks.
    Yes, it makes sense to me.

    A slow death refers to death as a process, a slow process. It speaks of the process of ending as a slow.

    Here's another example:

    "But take care, because formal writing is drawing out the slow death of whom; many writers and editors, I believe, are concerned about seeming sloppy if they retire it,
    ... ..."

    Who Cares About "Whom" Anymore?

    _____________

    Here's another example in which someone else speaks of death as a process. However, he does not describe it as slow. He describes it as being agonizing. Well, if this has been going on for decades, then I suppose that's a very slow death.


    “Whom” has been dying an agonizing death for decades"

    who / whom | Common Errors in English Usage and More | Washington State University

    _______

    In these examples, the writers do not use the verb "begin". However, both writers speak of death as a process, just as the writer does in you our example text. A process has a beginning and an end. This, we understand.
     

    Steven David

    Senior Member
    Standard General American English USA
    I didn't question "a slow death" though, but only "to begin a slow death".
    Yes, I understand. I was about to update my previous post to say this:

    "In general, the writer speaks of death as a process. A process has a beginning and an end. Therefore, "to begin a slow death" makes sense. I find nothing strange about this at all."
    ___________________________

    I would refer to the phrase "to begin a slow death" as the reification of an abstract process: death.

    Update: exact phrase in question: "the more extreme caricatures had begun a slow death"

    Chronic illness calls to mind the phrase "to begin a slow death". In other words, the phrase "to begin a slow death" makes sense. It's a typical example of reification in English. When I read your example sentence, it did not seem strange to me at all, and it made sense.

    American Heritage Dictionary

    reify

    "To regard or treat (an abstraction) as if it had concrete or material existence."

    Your example sentence calls to mind both reification and metaphor.

    Reposted from my previous reply for clarification

    In these examples, the writers do not use the verb "begin". However, both writers speak of death as a process, just as the writer does in you our example text. A process has a beginning and an end. This, we understand.
     
    Last edited:

    Edinburgher

    Senior Member
    German/English bilingual
    Well, accepting that "dying a slow death" is idiomatic, and that "beginning to die a slow death" therefore also is, I wouldn't consider eliding "to die" from that to be an actual error. Mind you, it isn't going to earn you any bonus marks for elegance. :)
     
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