the affirming something of another thing

VicNicSor

Senior Member
Russian
predication
2
b. logic : the affirming something of another thing ; especially : the attachment of a predicate to a subject, ascription of a property to an individual, or assignment of something to a class — see essential predication ; compare subjection
M-W

I can't understand the marked phrase:
1. How a gerund (affirming) can take an article.
2. What "affirm something of something" means.

Thank you.

upd: I've seen in the online M-W
2 b : the logical affirmation of something about another; especially : assignment of something to a class
so, the only question left is "1. How a gerund (affirming) can take an article."
 
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  • VicNicSor

    Senior Member
    Russian
    "Affirming" isn't a gerund here; it's an adjective modifying "something".
    But what does it mean? I haven't found such adjective in dictionaries. Another thing -- we have a preposition ("the affirming something of another thing") which implies that there should be a verb/gerund). See similar definitions:
    IV. Predicate ·vi To affirm something of another thing; to make an Affirmation
    universal -- affirming or denying something of all members of a class

    Am I wrong?
     

    Edinburgher

    Senior Member
    German/English bilingual
    I disagree with Parla, I think it is a gerund. The definition "the affirming something of another thing" (of the noun 'predication') might have been clearer as "the affirming of something about another thing". In other words, a predication is an act in which something is 'predicated' (past participle of the verb "to predicate"). So let's look at the M-W definition of the verb 'predicate', where it says:

    vt 2b logic: to affirm of the subject of a proposition
    also vi: to assert something about another thing

    So if to predicate is to affirm or to assert, it seems reasonable that a predication is the affirming or asserting of something.

    But this is tangential to Vik's central question, namely why a gerund can take an article.
    I don't understand why this should be puzzling. After all, a gerund is a present participle masquerading as a noun, so in effect it is a noun.
    See http://www.wordreference.com/definition/gerund where it even gives an example with 'the'.
     

    srk

    Senior Member
    English - US
    The problem starts with the poor wording of the definition in your original post. You must have access to a version of M-W that doesn't match what I see online. Your more recent 2 b is what I see.

    I think that you're right that "affirming" is a gerund in your original post, and that a (very slight) improvement to the wording would be "the affirming of something about another thing."

    You say you now understand what the definition means, and that the remaining question is "How can a gerund take an article?" A gerund is a noun formed from a verb. It acts as a noun. That's why it can take an article

    cross posted
     
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    Edinburgher

    Senior Member
    German/English bilingual
    The problem starts with the poor wording of the definition in your original post. You must have access to a version of M-W that doesn't match what I see online. Your more recent 2 b is what I see.
    I'm glad you agree with me about the wording being "poor" (I was trying to be more diplomatic with "might have been clearer"), but I can confirm that Vik's quote is accurate. That's exactly how it appears in my 1986 hard copy.
     

    wandle

    Senior Member
    English - British
    With the gerund, it is not the definite article that seems unusual, or the direct object, but the combining the two.
    It seems fine to me, as I do not know how, if each is valid separately, they could be invalid together.

    The direct object in combination with the definite article is less common nowadays than prefacing the object with 'of', but examples are not hard to find.

    The Poochie-Bells® Training Method
    they will associate the ringing the bells with receiving food.

    Reluctant Prophets
    The ringing the bells is a way to celebrate

    Chopin's Etudes : Op.10 No. 5, Gb major
    The ringing the bells to ward off thunder storms

    Roast Borough Market
    sometimes mums (or indeed dads) need some time out from the hot stove, the peeling the potatoes and all the other chores
     

    VicNicSor

    Senior Member
    Russian
    With the gerund, it is not the definite article that seems unusual, or the direct object, but the combining the two.
    It seems fine to me, as I do not know how, if each is valid separately, they could be invalid together.

    The direct object in combination with the definite article is less common nowadays than prefacing the object with 'of', but examples are not hard to find.

    The Poochie-Bells® Training Method
    they will associate the ringing the bells with receiving food.

    Reluctant Prophets
    The ringing the bells is a way to celebrate

    Chopin's Etudes : Op.10 No. 5, Gb major
    The ringing the bells to ward off thunder storms

    Roast Borough Market
    sometimes mums (or indeed dads) need some time out from the hot stove, the peeling the potatoes and all the other chores
    It seems like there is no difference between:confused::

    the affirming something of another thing
    they will associate the ringing the bells with receiving food.
    The ringing the bells is a way to celebrate.
    The ringing the bells to ward off thunder storms
    sometimes mums (or indeed dads) need some time out from the hot stove, the peeling the potatoes and all the other chores


    affirming something of another thing
    they will associate ringing the bells with receiving food.
    ringing the bells is a way to celebrate.
    ringing the bells to ward off thunder storms
    sometimes mums (or indeed dads) need some time out from the hot stove, peeling the potatoes and all the other chores

    the affirming of something of another thing
    they will associate the ringing of the bells with receiving food.
    The ringing of the bells is a way to celebrate.
    The ringing of the bells to ward off thunder storms
    sometimes mums (or indeed dads) need some time out from the hot stove, the peeling of the potatoes and all the other chores

    Am I right?
     

    entangledbank

    Senior Member
    English - South-East England
    Well, usually the noun-grammar and verb-grammar expressions are equivalent: peeling the potatoes is the same as the peeling of the potatoes. But you've got to pay attention to subjects and objects. With ringing the bells, someone is ringing the bells; but with the ringing of the bells, it's ambiguous - it would normally mean the bells were ringing, but need not. (Potatoes never peel anything, in my experience, so it's not a problem with this one.)

    The key point is that the hybrid form with 'the' and a direct object is highly unusual, and you should not use it. You will be able to find a few examples, but they would be better rewritten as either fully verb use or fully noun use.
     

    wandle

    Senior Member
    English - British
    It seems like there is no difference
    There is no great difference. The semantic message in all three cases is effectively the same.
    There is some difference of emphasis in relation to the specificity of the definite article.
    There is some slight difference in conciseness.

    In this case:
    the affirming of something of another thing
    there is ambiguity, because it is impossible to distinguish which term is the object of 'affirming'.

    In this case:
    sometimes mums (or indeed dads) need some time out from the hot stove, peeling the potatoes and all the other chores
    the parallelism of three successive definite articles is lost.
     
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    VicNicSor

    Senior Member
    Russian
    With ringing the bells, someone is ringing the bells; but with the ringing of the bells, it's ambiguous - it would normally mean the bells were ringing, but need not. (Potatoes never peel anything, in my experience, so it's not a problem with this one.)
    Do you mean the ringing of the bells can mean both:
    The bells ring
    or
    Someone rings the bells ?
     

    Edinburgher

    Senior Member
    German/English bilingual
    Well, it's unlikely the bells would ring without someone causing them to ring.

    When we refer to "the ringing of (the) bells", this can mean the sound they make, or the fact that they are being rung, but it can also mean the action which the person performs, such as pulling the ropes, or actuating the batons (keys) of a carillon.
     

    VicNicSor

    Senior Member
    Russian
    the affirming of something of another thing
    there is ambiguity, because it is impossible to distinguish which term is the object of 'affirming'.
    the affirming of something of another thing
    the affirming of something about another thing

    Do you mean if we say "about" instead, the ambiguity disappears?
    Well, it's unlikely the bells would ring without someone causing them to ring.

    When we refer to "the ringing of (the) bells", this can mean the sound they make, or the fact that they are being rung, but it can also mean the action which the person performs, such as pulling the ropes, or actuating the batons (keys) of a carillon.
    But 'peel' in this meaning is transitive, so we know for sure that potatoes don't peel and we can't say so. But we can say "the bells ring". I think it matters...
     

    PaulQ

    Senior Member
    UK
    English - England
    predication
    2
    b. logic : the affirming something of another thing ; especially : the attachment of a predicate to a subject, ascription of a property to an individual, or assignment of something to a class — see essential predication ; compare subjection
    M-W

    I can't understand the marked phrase:
    1. How a gerund (affirming) can take an article.
    "The affirming something" is equivalent to "the ringing bells" as in "The ringing bells called the people to the church." - ringing is an adjective. It does not have a definite article: the definite article qualifies "bells".

    Then we have

    "The people ringing the bells called the people to the church." ringing = who were ringing. This is verbal

    "The ringing of the bells by the priest called the people to the church." and The bells' ringing called the people to the church." in which ringing is a noun.
     

    wandle

    Senior Member
    English - British
    'The affiriming something of another thing' in the older M-W definition of predication means 'the act of affirming something of another thing': in other words, 'the act of affirming A of B': in other words, 'saying that B is A'.

    If we say 'David Cameron is Prime Minister', then we are predicating or affirming 'Prime-Minister-hood' of David Cameron: saying that he is Prime Minister.
     

    VicNicSor

    Senior Member
    Russian
    "The affirming something" is equivalent to "the ringing bells" as in "The ringing bells called the people to the church." - ringing is an adjective. It does not have a definite article: the definite article qualifies "bells".

    Then we have

    "The people ringing the bells called the people to the church." ringing = who were ringing. This is verbal

    "The ringing of the bells by the priest called the people to the church." and The bells' ringing called the people to the church." in which ringing is a noun.
    "Ringing" is an adjective being found in dictionaries, "affirming" is not., So, I still don't understand what it means in this case. And how something can take an article unless it is quoted, as the affirming "something" of...

    >>"The ringing of the bells by the priest called the people to the church." -- seems strange to me because ringing here is definitely a noun, while the preposition "by" says there should be a verb or a gerund.
    Am I wrong?

    ccross-posted with wandle
     

    Edinburgher

    Senior Member
    German/English bilingual
    But 'peel' in this meaning is transitive, so we know for sure that potatoes don't peel and we can't say so. But we can say "the bells ring". I think it matters...
    Well, yes, "ring" can be both transitive and intransitive. If the bells are ringing, it's intransitive. If someone is ringing bells, it's transitive.
    When we refer to "the ringing", i.e. when "ringing" is a gerund, then both the transitive and intransitive meanings are possible.
     

    VicNicSor

    Senior Member
    Russian
    Thank you, everyone:)

    (I don't understand why "it is impossible to distinguish which term is the object of 'affirming'", though)
     

    wandle

    Senior Member
    English - British
    In this case:
    the affirming of something of another thing
    there is ambiguity, because it is impossible to distinguish which term is the object of 'affirming'.
    This version is equivalent to: 'the affirming of A of B'.
    This could mean either 'the act of affirming that B is A' or 'the act of affirming that A is B'.
     

    VicNicSor

    Senior Member
    Russian
    This version is equivalent to: 'the affirming of A of B'.
    This could mean either 'the act of affirming that B is A' or 'the act of affirming that A is B'.
    Here is the online M-W definition of predication:
    the logical affirmation of something about another ; especially : assignment of something to a class

    As I understand, when we affirm something (A) about something else (B) -- we don't say that A is B. But it could be the case in "assignment of something to a class"... Am I wrong?
    In any case I can't see a significant difference between "the affirming something of another thing" and "the affirming of something of another thing":(
     

    wandle

    Senior Member
    English - British
    'About' and 'of' when expressing predication have the same meaning. 'To affirm' is a verb of statement. 'To affirm B of A' means 'to predicate B of A', which means 'to say that B is true of A', which means in this context (defining predication) that A is B. The predicate B is true of the subject A.

    Thus when we say 'David Cameron is Prime Minister', the subject (A) is David Cameron and the predicate (B) is Prime Minister and all the above statements about A and B are applicable to this case.
    I can't see a significant difference between "the affirming something of another thing" and "the affirming of something of another thing"
    In the phrase "the affirming something of another thing" the meaning is unidrectional. It is equivalent to the phrase "the (act of) affirming B of A". It can only mean that A is the subject and B is the predicate.
    However, the phrase "the affirming of something of another thing" is bidirectional. It is equivalent to the phrase "the (act of) affirming of B of A". It could mean either that A is the subject and B is the predicate or that B is the subject and A is the predicate.
     
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    VicNicSor

    Senior Member
    Russian
    But what if we say: 'David Cameron is not Prime Minister'. Then all this ('To affirm B of A' means 'to predicate B of A', which means 'to say that B is true of A', which means in this context (defining predication) that A is B. The predicate B is true of the subject A.) is still true?
    However, the phrase "the affirming of something of another thing" is bidirectional. It is equivalent to the phrase "the (act of) affirming of B of A". It could mean either that A is the subject and B is the predicate or that B is the subject and A is the predicate.
    I really don't understand.:( Let's take an example: Mary is a bad girl.
    "the affirming of being a bad girl of Mary" and "the affirming being a bad girl of Mary". I don't understand how Mary in the former example can be the object of "the affirming of".
     
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    wandle

    Senior Member
    English - British
    But what if we say: 'David Cameron is not Prime Minister'?
    In that case, 'not' is part of the predicate and the definition of predication does not change.
    Let's take an example: Mary is a bad girl. "the affirming of being a bad girl of Mary" and "the affirming being a bad girl of Mary". I don't understand how Mary in the former example can be the object of "the affirming of".
    We have two senses of the word 'of' here: (a) what we might call the 'predicative' sense, in which it means the same as 'about' (example: 'We say of David Cameron that he is Prime Minister'); and (b) the objective sense, in which it belongs to the object of the verbal idea (examples: the election of David Cameron as MP; the shooting of Liberty Valance). Let us call them ofP and ofO respectively.
    In phrases such as 'the affirming of something of another thing' the two 'ofs' have different roles: but they are reversible.
    It could be 'the affirming ofO something ofP another thing': but it could alternatively be 'the affirming ofP something ofO another thing'.

    Or if we simply substitute 'about' for predicative 'of' and leave objective 'of' unchanged, then the two possibilities are:
    'the affirming of something about another thing' and 'the affirming about something of another thing'.
    Thus 'the affirming of A of B' could mean either 'the affirming of A about B' or 'the affirming about A of B'.
    That is why expressions such as 'the affirming of something of another thing' are ambiguous and should be avoided.
     
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    VicNicSor

    Senior Member
    Russian
    Oh, I understand. It seems like although these O and P change places, the "real words" do not:
    the affirming of the shooting of (about) Liberty Valance
    = 'the affirming of O of P
    the affirming of (about)the shooting of Liberty Valance = 'the affirming of P of O
    the affirming the shooting of Liberty Valance
    = 'the affirming O of P
    (let me know please if I'm wrong)

    Thank you very much!
     

    wandle

    Senior Member
    English - British
    The Liberty Valance example is there simply to show the meaning of the objective sense of 'of'.
    It is not and cannot be a parallel to the phrase 'the affirming something of another thing', which is a definition of predication.
     
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