tile in a moat

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DeeDol

Senior Member
Slovak
Hi, this is from the Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell.

Simon turned, looking around the moat, taking in the carvings along the stone walls and the tile at the water’s edge.
...
The tile glittered in the light.
...
Up close, Simon could see there was a mosaic that stretched beneath the water.

I would like to know what "the tile" is in this context. I am confused by the singular. Could it be something like pipes? (WR definition: 2. a short pipe made of earthenware, concrete, or plastic, used with others to form a drain)

Thank you.
 
  • panjandrum

    Lapsed Moderator
    English-Ireland (top end)
    It's hard to know for sure, even after looking at the surrounding text.
    As I read it, there must be only one tile at the water's edge - the kind of square, flat tile that comes immediately to mind. Perhaps this single tile is the beginning of the mosaic?

    The tile does not seem to be mentioned anywhere else in the book, apart from this page.
     

    DeeDol

    Senior Member
    Slovak
    I have no idea. I am further confused by the fact that the characters are in a boat which is moving and "the tile" is visible twice. (Admittedly, almost no time passes, but still...)
     

    Myridon

    Senior Member
    English - US
    "The tile" could refer to a tile flooring or a tile border (for example, some swimming pools have a row of tile around the edge) as well as a single tile.
    The tile in my bathroom needs to be re-grouted. - referring to any or all of the tiled surfaces.
     

    PaulQ

    Banned
    UK
    English - England
    I agree with Myridon. I would read "tile" as an alternative to 'tiling' - both being uncountable. I would see the author's use as strange but marginally acceptable.
     

    Andygc

    Senior Member
    British English
    I suggest that he is using 'tile' in the same way as we use 'brick' - "The path was edged in brick." "The wall was made of brick." In this case the moat was, presumably, lined with a mosaic, so he is saying "the moat was edged with tile". It's unusual, and I can't recall having seen it used this way. I'd expect and would use 'tiles'.
     

    Myridon

    Senior Member
    English - US
    The author is American. I don't find it unusual to use "tile" in this manner other than it seems odd to me for a moat to be lined or decorated with tile.
     

    DeeDol

    Senior Member
    Slovak
    Thank you, all of you:)
    One last question: What are tiles doing in a moat? Have you ever seen such a moat? (Just curious.)
     
    Last edited:

    Thomas Tompion

    Senior Member
    English - England
    I wonder if in American English a tile can mean a piece of tiling - ie. a lot of tiles together. That could amount to a mosaic, part of which stretched under the water.

    An alternative reading would be that they first saw something which looked like a tile from some distance, then, as they approached they saw that it was a mosaic.

    I think that in the blanks in the OP they push the punt closer to the wall.
     
    Last edited:

    Myridon

    Senior Member
    English - US
    I think the tile and the mosaic could be separate entities. I would generally not refer to a mosiac as just "tile" (and mosaics can be made of other things).
    "A tile" is a single tile as is "a piece of tiling." (I don't think I've ever said "a piece of tiling" though. It sounds like a dictionary definition.)
    Tile can be an uncountable for a lot of tiles together.
    The tile can refer to a specific instance of uncountable tile (the tile in my bathroom) or one specific single tile (the tile in my hand).
     

    Thomas Tompion

    Senior Member
    English - England
    [...]
    Tile can be an uncountable for a lot of tiles together.
    The tile can refer to a specific instance of uncountable tile (the tile in my bathroom) or one specific single tile (the tile in my hand).
    I think this is the AE/BE difference I was postulating.

    A tile in the BE I know can't be other than a single, countable, usually square, unit of cooked earth to put on a floor, a roof, or a wall, usually together with a lot of its fellows.
     

    Myridon

    Senior Member
    English - US
    A tile in the BE I know can't be other than a single, countable, usually square, unit of cooked earth to put on a floor, a roof, or a wall, usually together with a lot of its fellows.
    Note that I am agreeing with you on the meaning of "a tile". The quoted sentences in the original post have "the tile."
     

    Sparky Malarky

    Moderator
    English - US
    To me, this sounds like there was a mosiac - a picture - made up of small tiles. This might be unusual for a moat, but why not? It would not be all that unusual in a very fancy bathtub or swimming pool. It sounds like the moat was lined with tile, and Simon first was looking at the tiles at the edge then noticed that there was a mosiac under the water.
     

    Parla

    Member Emeritus
    English - US
    Tile is often uncountable in AE; two of the walls of my bathroom are covered with tile. One could also say that they're covered with tiles, since the tiled walls are made up of many individual tiles about six inches square.

    I've never seen an actual moat, but I can imagine that one might line its walls with tile(s).
     
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