prodigal student

VicNicSor

Banned
Russian
— Quite frankly, Cleric, I am told that you are very nearly a prodigal student, knowing almost instantly if someone is feeling.
— I have a good record, sir.
— Why, do you imagine, that is, Cleric?
— I'm not sure, Vice-Council. Somehow, I'm able, on some level, to sense how an offender thinks, to put myself in their position.

Equilibrium, film

According to the context, I figure it must mean something like "talanted/brilliant". Does it fit any definition of "prodigal"?
Thanks.
 
  • JulianStuart

    Senior Member
    English (UK then US)
    What is the film about? It seems as though it is about telepathic skills or something The term prodigal means "spending wastefully" (although many seem to think it means "returning home" :() I'd guess it has a specific meaning in the context of the plot/setting* because of the phrase before it "you are very nearly ..." (which pretty much excludes a usage mistake intending "prodigious" which does not have a "critical threshold" for defining prodigious versus not prodigious).

    The thread If you had ceased your interval, if you were a sense offender... also suggests the film uses a fictional vocabulary that goes with the plot.
     
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    dojibear

    Senior Member
    English - Northeast US
    A "prodigy" is rare, brilliantly talented person. Often we say "a child prodigy" about someone who, at age 10, plays music better than most adults, or goes to college at age 11 and graduates college at 13. "Prodigies" are rare. Mozart was a musical prodigy.

    I think the speaker assumes that "prodigal student" means "a student who is a prodigy", though it does not.
     

    VicNicSor

    Banned
    Russian
    What is the film about? It seems as though it is about telepathic skills or something The term prodigal means "spending wastefully" (although many seem to think it means "returning home" :() I'd guess it has a specific meaning in the context of the plot/setting* because of the phrase before it "you are very nearly ..." (which pretty much excludes a usage mistake intending "prodigious" which does not have a "critical threshold" for defining prodigious versus not prodigious).

    The thread If you had ceased your interval, if you were a sense offender... also suggests the film uses a fictional vocabulary that goes with the plot.
    It's not really about "telepathic skills". About a dystopian world where feelings (and things related to it as art, literature, music, etc) are a crime, and "Clerics" are a law enforcement force that punishes for it.
    I'm not sure if "prodigal" is a part of any special vocabulary...
    A "prodigy" is rare, brilliantly talented person. Often we say "a child prodigy" about someone who, at age 10, plays music better than most adults, or goes to college at age 11 and graduates college at 13. "Prodigies" are rare. Mozart was a musical prodigy.

    I think the speaker assumes that "prodigal student" means "a student who is a prodigy", though it does not.
    So do you think it's a misuse of a word in the OP?..
     

    JulianStuart

    Senior Member
    English (UK then US)
    It's not really about "telepathic skills".
    But it seems that some people (like the one in the OP) can "sense" when another person is "feeling" or "sensing on some level how they think" - sounds like telepathy to me :) Not sure we'll resolve the prodigal meaning, though. I would find "You are very nearly a brilliant student" a strange collocation.
     

    VicNicSor

    Banned
    Russian
    Yes, but I meant the film itself is not about telekinesis (as you asked:))

    I think maybe it means "lavish in giving or yielding: prodigal of compliments." That is, "lavish in giving or yielding what a student is supposed to be:confused:
     

    Myridon

    Senior Member
    English - US
    Yes, but I meant the film itself is not about telekinesis (as you asked:))
    Without the context you gave in #4, the original sentence seemed quite incomplete. I wanted to ask "to notice if someone is feeling WHAT?" The movie depicts some kind of special circumstance, some thing that must be expressed in an unusual way. If it's not a psychic power, it might as well be as it's some new thing. In our daily lives, we don't need to know if someone is feeling (anything at all) so it sounds like a psychic power.
     

    VicNicSor

    Banned
    Russian
    Without the context you gave in #4, the original sentence seemed quite incomplete. I wanted to ask "to notice if someone is feeling WHAT?" The movie depicts some kind of special circumstance, some thing that must be expressed in an unusual way. If it's not a psychic power, it might as well be as it's some new thing. In our daily lives, we don't need to know if someone is feeling (anything at all) so it sounds like a psychic power.
    I.e., is it now clear to you what 'prodigal' means here?
     

    JulianStuart

    Senior Member
    English (UK then US)
    Yes, but I meant the film itself is not about telekinesis (as you asked:))
    Note the difference between telekinesis and telepathy: even one-way communication - the student can determine what someone else is thinking/feeling could be considered telepathy while telekinesis is moving objects with "mental powers". These abilities are an important part of the plot of the film so they are one thing the film is "about". Whatever you want to call these "powers" they don't provide any explanation for the likely meaning of "prodigal" in this context.
     

    Myridon

    Senior Member
    English - US
    You folks obviously don't read enough sf/fantasy -- that's empathy, not telepathy.
    Empathy is reading someone's feelings, not telling whether or not they are feeling at all. Reading is not the ability to determine that the pages are blank. ;)
    "This is sci fi." isn't explicitly given in the context, either. :)
     

    VicNicSor

    Banned
    Russian
    Note the difference between telekinesis and telepathy:
    Oopps:D I know the difference, I just confused them.
    --------------
    So, to sum it up, the usage of "prodigal" is problematic here, right?

    P.S. I've checked some Russian translations, and they all in the lines on my interpretation in the OP.
     

    JulianStuart

    Senior Member
    English (UK then US)
    Exactly. It's not telepathy, which Julian called it in posts 2 and 6.
    That was an early guess without knowing anything about the plot - but based on the sentences in the OP :
    It seems as though it is about telepathic skills or something .
    It's still not clear whether these people who can detect the loss of effectiveness of the drug in citizens actually have
    the power of understanding and imaginatively entering into another person's feelings
    or whether they just detect that they are now "feeling" again, so even empathy might not be right.
     
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