ways of life; walks of life

newname

Senior Member
Vietnamese
Hi,
Below is a multiple choice question.
The British often judge people by their table manners and, at the table as in other _____(7)_____ of British life, politeness and distance are priced.
A. walks B. ways C. parts D. corners

The answer is A, which I think is wrong.
I was considering both B and C to be correct, but after looking at the phrase in bold I don't think any of the answers is correct. Why? I think I can extend the sentence as follows:

The British often judge people by their table manners and, at the table or in an office, or in public as in other _____(7)_____ of British life, politeness and distance are priced.

So what follows 'at the table' must be a 'phrase of place'.

Please help.

Thank you.
 
  • perpend

    Banned
    American English
    "walks of life" is a set phrase.

    The commas are tricky in the sentence, but A. is correct.

    The British often judge people by their table manners and---at the table as in other walks of British life---politeness and distance are priced.

    "at the table as in other walks of British life" is sort of interjected into the sentence:The British often judge people by their table manners, and politeness and distance are priced (prized?).
     

    newname

    Senior Member
    Vietnamese
    Thanks perpend.

    But I know 'walks of life' is only used in the set phrase ' from all walks of life', which means 'all types of people with different backgrounds, jobs etc'

    I have never known 'walks of life' to mean otherwise than that. And I think the part 'at the table as in other _____(7)_____ of British life' should go like like this:
    at the table and in all other places
    So 'walks of life' cannot replace 'in other places' except that you can be 100% sure that 'in other walks of life' also means ' in other places'.

    I find it syntactically bad to say ' Politeness and distance are highly regarded at the table as in 'other groups of people from all jobs, backgrounds etc'

    Thank you.
     

    Parla

    Member Emeritus
    English - US
    I agree with you that (A) is the wrong answer, Newname. "Walks of life" doesn't mean places or activities; it refers to occupations or to social classes, and neither would make sense in this sentence. I think the only possible answer is the general word "parts"—i.e., answer (C).

    ("Priced" should of course be prized; it was either a misprint in the text or your error in copying it.)
     

    newname

    Senior Member
    Vietnamese
    newname. What is the source of your question? (See Rule 4) Was the writer a native English speaker?

    Thanks. It's a multiple choice question. And I am sorry I don't know who wrote it. But from all the confusion it's caused I think it was written by some non-native speaker of English.

    @perpend
    I didn't notice your correction. Thank you a lot.:)
    Can you explain why A is correct, considering my analysis?
     

    Andygc

    Senior Member
    British English
    To me, the use of "walks of life" in this sentence is wholly inappropriate. The only "walk of life" involving being at the table in the sense used here is restaurant criticism, and restaurant critics are not noted for their table manners (does anybody think having your meal photographed is polite?). I'm agreeing with Parla there. However, I would also say that none of the options is suitable in this sentence. If I was forced at pain of death to write this sentence it would have to be:
    The British often judge people by their table manners, and at the table, as in other aspects of British life, politeness and distance are prized.
    Note that I have moved one of the commas and added one. I haven't a clue what "distance" is supposed to mean, but that is not a comment on the point at question.
     

    newname

    Senior Member
    Vietnamese
    Thanks a bunch Andygc.

    Your comma is perfectly placed. Perhaps the question writer forgot to put it in.

    I thought you knew the meaning of distance. It's known in my country that the English are famous for their coldness so when you are talking to them, you should not stand close to them. Hence distance.:)
    I know it's off topic but I would appreciate it if you would rewrite the sentence with a good replacement for 'distance'.

    Thank you.
     

    newname

    Senior Member
    Vietnamese
    Yes. You are right perpend. My dictionary doesn't list this meaning. But I think it's too rarely used to be known even by your compatriots.

    Thank you again for teaching me this new word.
     

    newname

    Senior Member
    Vietnamese
    You have been crowned "funny" in English, newname. :)

    It would be a rare usage, but not out of the question.

    I don't know whether I have made you laugh or you are accusing me of dishonesty. But I can assure you that I didn't know it has that meaning also. I had only known the set phrase 'from all walks of life' for quite some time until I met you.:)

    Thank you. It's very kind of you and all other posters to bear with me.
     

    Andygc

    Senior Member
    British English
    Here is definition #7 for a noun (walk as a noun) from Merriam-Webster
    7 : manner of living : CONDUCT, BEHAVIOR

    http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/walk?show=0&t=1369528130


    The plural of this definition would be "walks" for me, and I believe the sentence is talking about table conduct/behavior.
    But that is not the meaning in the set phrase "walks of life". If it were you would be saying "manner of living of life" which would be bizarre. The OED has these definitions for the complete noun phrase:
    walk of life, n.
    1.
    A person's social grade, station, or rank.
    2.
    A person's trade, profession, occupation, or calling.
    I think they make it clear why the use of the phrase in the original text is inappropriate.
     

    perpend

    Banned
    American English
    walk of life
    walks of life

    Why can't there be both a singular and a plural, Andy? I perceive them both to be possible.

    I don't think "walks of life" has to necessarily deal with grade/station/rank/trade/profession/occupation/calling.

    It can also have to do with conduct/behavior.
     

    Andygc

    Senior Member
    British English
    perpend, if you think that sitting at table to eat a meal is one of the possible walks of life, then please carry on thinking that. I thought that the purpose of language was to communicate. The problem arises that no other native English speaker is likely to understand you. In a forum that is aimed at helping learners of English, I think it better to stick to the generally accepted meanings, as given in the most comprehensive dictionary published in the English-speaking world, rather than to suggest new meanings for set phrases which have been used with the meanings I quoted for more than 250 years.
     

    perpend

    Banned
    American English
    newname started the query. A. is still correct for me, which newname said was the correct answer (see #1). :)
     

    Andygc

    Senior Member
    British English
    newname started the query. A. is still correct for me, which newname said was the correct answer (see #1). :)
    If you read the question again you will see that newname was questioning the answer. He was right to do so, because the answer is wrong. His analysis is in post #3, and is suppoted by Parla, the OED, and me. It's a pity a few more members haven't joined in, but maybe they thought the question had been covered.
     

    Giorgio Spizzi

    Senior Member
    Italian
    Hullo, everyone.

    Walk of life = a position in society, especially one's job or one's social rank.

    The British often judge people by their table manners and, at the table as in other___(7)___ of British life, politeness ...

    A. *The British often judge people by their table manners and, at the table as in other positions in society of British life, politeness ...
    B. *The British often judge people by their table manners and, at the table as in other jobs of British life, politeness and distance...
    C. *The British often judge people by their table manners and, at the table as in other social ranks of British life, politeness ...

    Ergo, answer A is wrong. Maybe "parts" or "areas" or "territories" would be more appropriate.

    GS :)
     

    perpend

    Banned
    American English
    ... and, at the table as in other walks of life ...

    ... fits like a glove, for me, Giorgio, for what it's worth ...

    Ciao
     
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