shielded their faces behind surgical masks

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redgiant

Senior Member
Cantonese, Hong Kong
A dozen middle-aged men shielded their faces behind surgical masks from a reporter as they stood in line outside a brothel.

Hi,
I've read "People shield his face behind newspapers and clothes". Does "shielding their faces behind masks" give you an impression that they are just holding their surgical masks instead of wearing them?
 
  • pops91710

    Senior Member
    English, AE
    Can you give us the source? I don't see it meaning that they are just holding their surgical masks instead of wearing them. It could be either way. A shield can be worn or it can be held.
     

    redgiant

    Senior Member
    Cantonese, Hong Kong
    Hi pops91710

    I made up the sentence. I was just trying to find out if the verb "shield" would work when someone is trying to hide his face by wearing a surgical mask. I take it from your explanation that the answer is yes. Thank you~~
     

    pops91710

    Senior Member
    English, AE
    Hi pops91710

    I made up the sentence. I was just trying to find out if the verb "shield" would work when someone is trying to hide his face by wearing a surgical mask. I take it from your explanation that the answer is yes. Thank you~~
    Why not just say A dozen middle-aged men hid their faces... since that is what they were doing for anonymity?
     

    Copyright

    Senior Member
    American English
    I don't care for shielded here, no matter how poetic it is. Normally, you (or at least I) shield your face from something, so if you wanted "shielded their faces from view," it would be better. But not better than "hid" for me.
     

    sdgraham

    Senior Member
    USA English
    I don't care for shielded here, no matter how poetic it is. Normally, you (or at least I) shield your face from something, so if you wanted "shielded their faces from view," it would be better. But not better than "hid" for me.
    Precisely. :thumbsup: :thumbsup:

    I see no reason that poetic writing should be assumed or replace simple declarative, unambiguous English when trying to impart information.

    If the OP is an agent of shield, he should at least say "shielded their faces with masks." As written, the masks might or not be the agents of shielding. (pun intended.)
     

    estoy_lerniendo

    Senior Member
    English - U.S. (Midwest)
    I don't care for shielded here, no matter how poetic it is. Normally, you (or at least I) shield your face from something, so if you wanted "shielded their faces from view," it would be better. But not better than "hid" for me.
    The twelve men mentioned in the original sentence shielded their faces from a reporter. The order of the syntactic constituents can be put up for debate, but to me, the sentence seemed normal and idiomatically appropriate.
     

    pops91710

    Senior Member
    English, AE
    Yet the OP himself was uncertain of the usage of shielding. Ergo my suggestion to use the unambiguous and more direct word. For the rest of us I would say that to shield doesn't immediately imply hide but instead protect. And surgical masks are not generally thought of as 'shields'. Hence our hesitancy to embrace shielding as the best choice, however poetic it may or may not be.
     

    estoy_lerniendo

    Senior Member
    English - U.S. (Midwest)
    from Merriam Webster, under shield:
    to prevent (someone or something) from being seen

    I've always thought that this usage of the word shield is commonly employed by native speakers in everyday scenarios (on the street corner, on the news, etc.), but maybe others would beg to differ?

    The word poetic to describe its use was probably not the right choice by me. I would say it just sounds "neater."
     

    DonnyB

    Sixties Mod
    English UK Southern Standard English
    Using "shield" in this context sounds perfectly natural usage to me in BE; the guys were (presumably) "shielding" their faces from the glare of unwanted publicity or exposure.
     

    pops91710

    Senior Member
    English, AE
    It would appear from the contributions here that it cuts according to one's perspective. Being a former blue collar worker makes me think of shield as something else first, but not only. I never would suggest it is 'inappropriate" or even wrong. As ever, it depends on the audience, if you will. getting the gist of the OP's narrative was slightly less than instantaneous , but that's just me.
     

    Florentia52

    Modwoman in the attic
    English - United States
    I would use "shield" if I wanted to suggest that I sympathized with the men, and "hide" if I wanted to suggest the opposite.
     

    redgiant

    Senior Member
    Cantonese, Hong Kong
    Hi,
    Apart from "hide", "duck" (verb) seems to be a good substitution for "shield",
    After reports that the brothel had been forced to close following an outbreak of infection, the same dozen middle-aged men ducked behind their morning newspapers and magazines as they stood in line outside a clap clinic.
     

    Myridon

    Senior Member
    English - US
    "Duck" implies a completely different motion. They moved down behind newspapers that were already there. Also, it's "duck behind" together results in "shield".
    They shielded themselves from the reporter. We know they put something between themselves and the reporter.
    They ducked from the reporter. They squatted on the ground. It was more difficult for the reporter to hit them but he could still see them.
     

    pops91710

    Senior Member
    English, AE
    Hi,
    Apart from "hide", "duck" (verb) seems to be a good substitution for "shield",
    After reports that the brothel had been forced to close following an outbreak of infection, the same dozen middle-aged men ducked behind their morning newspapers and magazines as they stood in line outside a clap clinic.
    Ducking one's head behind a newspaper sounds completely acceptable to me. To duck can mean your body, or just your head. One of the definitions of duck is to lower (as the head) quickly. If you add behind their newspapers I think that is fine.
     

    Myridon

    Senior Member
    English - US
    Ducking one's head behind a newspaper sounds completely acceptable to me. To duck can mean your body, or just your head. One of the definitions of duck is to lower (as the head) quickly. If you add behind their newspapers I think that is fine.
    Yes, the result in this case is much the same _for the entire sentence_. I was objecting to the statement ""duck" (verb) seems to be a good substitution for "shield"" which is not true in general. If you were to film the original sentence, you have several choices for how the newspapers got between the faces and the reporter.
     

    pops91710

    Senior Member
    English, AE
    Yes, the result in this case is much the same _for the entire sentence_. I was objecting to the statement ""duck" (verb) seems to be a good substitution for "shield"" which is not true in general. If you were to film the original sentence, you have several choices for how the newspapers got between the faces and the reporter.
    Yes, that was understood. Duck and shield are not synonymous. My point was duck will work. By the way, the scenario was changed from a brothel with a reporter lurking to a clap clinic with no reporters mentioned being there. Obviously they were in fact shielding themselves as they ducked their heads behind their newspaper "shields".:D
     

    Myridon

    Senior Member
    English - US
    The thing is we don't know whether they ducked behind their papers or opened their papers in front of their faces or what. Changing it to "duck" adds a detail that wasn't in the context. Compare it to: He went there. vs He drove there. You can't generally substitute the more specific "drove" for the non-specific "went."
     

    Packard

    Senior Member
    USA, English
    You shield yourself from something. You can shield yourself from stones, waterhoses, etc. (or from view).

    So you can shield yourself from view, but you cannot shield your face from others (unless to protect them from damage by viewing your face).

    You hide from someone, but you cannot shield from someone.
     

    pops91710

    Senior Member
    English, AE
    The thing is we don't know whether they ducked behind their papers or opened their papers in front of their faces or what. Changing it to "duck" adds a detail that wasn't in the context. Compare it to: He went there. vs He drove there. You can't generally substitute the more specific "drove" for the non-specific "went."
    You are right, Myridon. Maybe, according to forum rules, he shouldn't have changed the context as he did. But he did say he made up the sentence, so I'm just assuming he wants to make variations according to his understanding as it progresses through this thread. I left behind his first question in my last post and was commenting only on the scene at the clap clinic.
     

    redgiant

    Senior Member
    Cantonese, Hong Kong
    Okay, your explanations convince me to eliminate "Duck behind" as a potential substitution. People normally open and raise their papers to hide their faces. I can't imagine how people thrust their heads behind their papers in urgent situations. I blame my misunderstanding on this article from which I learnt "shield their faces behind papers" and "duck behind papers": The queue of shame: Chinese customers hide their faces as they wait to collect free breakfast at McMuffins. The expressions, which seems to be used interchangeably to mean "hide their faces behind their papers", appear in the captions of two pictures:

    1.We can see you: One man allows his face to be seen while others duck behind their morning papers


    2.Hidden: Diners shield their faces behind newspapers as they wait to get their free breakfast



     
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