no less free...than=as free...as?

Morrow

Senior Member
Japanese
In my understanding, we can rewrite (1) as (2) without changing meaning.

(1) Our sleeping hours are no less free from language than our waking ones — language is even a medium in which our dreams are conveyed.
(F. J. Newmeyer, The Politics of Linguistics)
(2) Our sleeping hours are as free from language as our waking ones — language is even a medium in which our dreams are conveyed.

Do you think I am right?

Thank you in advance
Seiichi MYOGA
 
  • Trisia

    Senior Member
    Romanian
    Actually, if I remember well the little logic we we taught in school, it should be something alond the lines of "Our sleeping hours are as filled with/dependent on language as our waking ones" or "our waking hours are as free from language as our sleeping ones."

    But then again, I'm half-asleep right now... :rolleyes:
     

    Morrow

    Senior Member
    Japanese
    Dear Trisia,

    I appreciate your help and comments.

    Let's wait and see what native speakers of English would say.

    Morrow
     

    rainbow84uk

    Senior Member
    English, UK
    I'm also very sleepy but will try to answer! ;)

    To me, are no less free from...than... means are just as full of....as.....

    So, 'our sleeping hours are no less free from language than our waking ones' means the same as 'our sleeping hours are just as full of language as our waking ones (are)'.

    Your sentence 2 seems to say the opposite to this, suggesting that both our waking and sleeping hours are free from language.
     
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    ron1759

    Senior Member
    U.S. - English
    In my understanding, we can rewrite (1) as (2) without changing meaning.

    (1) Our sleeping hours are no less free from language than our waking ones — language is even a medium in which our dreams are conveyed.
    (F. J. Newmeyer, The Politics of Linguistics)
    (2) Our sleeping hours are as free from language as our waking ones — language is even a medium in which our dreams are conveyed.

    Do you think I am right?

    Thank you in advance
    Seiichi MYOGA
    (1) implies that our sleeping hours are not free from language (to some degree); the re-written part of (2) implies (although logic may not demand it) that our sleeping hours are mostly free from language.

    The way I would re-write (1), considering both language and logic, is:

    Our sleeping hours are at least as imbued with language as our waking ones...

    Since sentence (1) has a "not less than" construction, removing the "not" results logically in a "greater than or equal to" construction ("at least as"). But the intended meaning of the original sentence is no doubt "equal to" so you could just say:

    Our sleeping hours are as infused with language as our waking ones...

    (Instead of "infused with," you could say "full of," "imbued with," "connected with," "tied to," etc.)
     

    Morrow

    Senior Member
    Japanese
    Dear rainbow84uk, WestSideGal, JCEst and ron1759,

    I appreciate all your help and comments.

    So, (1) actually corresponds in meaning to (3).

    (1) Our sleeping hours are no less free from language than our waking ones — language is even a medium in which our dreams are conveyed. (F. J. Newmeyer, The Politics of Linguistics)
    (3) Our sleeping hours are (just) as full of language as our waking ones — language is even a medium in which our dreams are conveyed.

    Still something confuses me. For one thing, "no less" may mean "equal or greater" but I'm not sure why the "or greater" part can drop out of it. And I'm as much confused about why the "free from" part has switched to something opposite to it, that is, "full of."
    I'll think about this and post a new thread later.

    Thank you.
    Morrow
     

    rainbow84uk

    Senior Member
    English, UK
    Well in standard comparisons, we tend to use the larger or more 'positive' measurement of the two - as old as, as far as, as nice as - while the corresponding as young as, as near as, as unpleasant as are used less, and tend to be marked with a connotation of 'as young as this person (who is very young)', 'as near as this thing (which is very near)', 'as unpleasant as this thing (which is very unpleasant).'

    In your sentence, you come up against this theory twice. Once with no less, and once with free from - both are marked forms when used in comparisons, while something with an opposite meaning to them would be standard: no more, full of/imbued with.

    So, no less free from language than does mean 'equally free or more free from language than', but it has an connotation of 'equally free or more free from language than this thing (which is really free from language'. No more, on the other hand, means 'equally or less free from language than', and is more or less neutral. So, no more free from language than sounds fine by me.

    The other problem is with free from, meaning 'devoid of'. Again, when used in comparisons it's marked with a meaning of 'as free from X as this other thing (which is totally devoid of X)', and that's not the meaning you want. A neutral form using something which means the opposite of free from, such as full of or imbued with would also work, but I still prefer the no more option, or a re-writing with 'as...as' like in your example 3.

    Sorry if I've made no sense at all, but I've tried my best! :p
    Lauren x
     

    JCEst

    Senior Member
    English -Ireland
    If you analyse them down, they mean the same thing, but the way they are used and the context is where the difference is.
    "No less free" emphasizes the fact that our waking ours are not free from language, ie full of language.
    As free emphasizes freedome from language. Mathemtically speaking this could be the same amount, but the implication is very different in context.
    Hope this helps.
     
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    ron1759

    Senior Member
    U.S. - English
    So, (1) actually corresponds in meaning to (3).

    (1) Our sleeping hours are no less free from language than our waking ones — language is even a medium in which our dreams are conveyed. (F. J. Newmeyer, The Politics of Linguistics)
    (3) Our sleeping hours are (just) as full of language as our waking ones — language is even a medium in which our dreams are conveyed.
    Yes, (3) is good.

    Still something confuses me. For one thing, "no less" may mean "equal or greater" but I'm not sure why the "or greater" part can drop out of it.
    It's a matter of logic versus language usage. If it was purely logic (as in a logic class), you would keep the "or greater." We are assuming, however, the the writer does not intend to say that sleeping hours have more language than waking ones, and in fact including the "or greater" case may detract from the argument because it is an overstatement.

    And I'm as much confused about why the "free from" part has switched to something opposite to it, that is, "full of."
    I'll think about this and post a new thread later.
    It's a result of flipping the "no less...than" from a "negative" to a "positive" statement. To use a different sentence, if you say "He is as small as his brother," the implication (in English, anyway) is that both he and his brother are small. Even though the sentence is still logically correct if they are both giants, no one would assume that they might be giants with the given sentence. Similarly, if you say "Our sleeping hours are as free from language as our waking ones," the implication is that sleeping and waking hours are free (or nearly free) from language, which is not Newmeyer's intent. Therefore the sentence needs to be expressed like your (3) above.
     
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