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  #1  
Old Oct 19, 2013, 12:09 AM
Hellacia Hellacia is offline
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I'm pretty sure that for track 9, the correct English would be "All I Saw Was Stars". All is an indefinite pronoun, meaning that it can be either singular or plural. Take the sentence "All of the king's men were dead." In this sentence, all is plural because it refers to men, which is plural, so it refers to more than one man. Therefore, it takes a plural linking verb, were. In the sentence "All I saw was stars", all is actually singular because its meaning in the sentence is to describe the only thing that you saw, the single thing. And since the pronoun that the linking verb is taking is singular, the linking verb is singular, even if what follows it is plural.

I'm open for discussion on it though, since I know it's confusing.

EDIT: Take another example sentence, "All I want for Christmas is video games." In this sentence, all you want - the single thing you want - for Christmas is video games. Compare that to "All I want for Christmas are video games". That makes less sense, doesn't it? (I'm hoping the answer to that is yes )

Last edited by Hellacia; Oct 19, 2013 at 12:15 AM.
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  #2  
Old Oct 19, 2013, 01:06 AM
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Let's rephrase "all" as "the only thing," since that's how it's being used in this title.

Would you say "The Only Thing I Saw Was Stars" or "The Only Things I Saw Were Stars"? Which one you choose will determine whether "all" is singular or plural in "All I Saw [Was/Were] Stars."

Personally, I'd use the plural both there and in your Christmas example.
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  #3  
Old Oct 19, 2013, 02:12 AM
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This time I agree with you Hellacia, but I don't agree with your examples. I hope you don't take offense to that! What "all" really means here is "the whole/entirity of". Look at the third entry for Merriam-Webster's definition, which is the definition for the word as a pronoun. A whole *is* singular, so the whole of what you saw *is* stars. Or, if you'd rather replace "all" with another determiner (specifically, a quantifier) for this specific sentence, you can use "everything", because all you saw is everything you saw. And everything *is* always singular. (Merriam-Webster also uses "everything" as an alternate definition of the word as a pronoun.)

This is the best way I know how to describe it. Though, it may still not sound right to some people. Sometimes English is awkward that way I guess, and I can't comment on whether or not we should go with what sounds/seems better versus what is more grammatically correct. I'm only trying to dispel the confusion!
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Old Oct 19, 2013, 02:19 AM
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you sure about that?
because all singular are always not singular, take "one million years" for example
"one million" is singular but "years" isn't (I wonder if it's a good example actually)
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  #5  
Old Oct 19, 2013, 02:32 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Phonograph View Post
all singular are always not singular
Well yes, that's the core of the discussion, actually! The issue here is that "all" is sometimes singular and sometimes plural, and determining which one it is can be tricky. Your example is actually a good one of the concept we're discussing, but doesn't really fit in because nobody has said that the word we're discussing is always singular. We're just discussing whether or not it is this time. In my post, I explain that the word "all" is singular in this particular instance, and then give some examples that illustrate why. Did you find the examples to be incorrect?

By the way, this entire discussion depends on how we want to translate 星ばかり見ていた. ばかり is about as tricky a concept here as the word "all" is to me. Could I not simply translate this as "I Only Saw Stars", since ばかり means only/just/always?

Last edited by Mortavia; Oct 19, 2013 at 02:34 AM.
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  #6  
Old Oct 19, 2013, 02:39 AM
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actually, why not retranslate the track into something else in order to avoid that sort of possible error
hoshi bakari miteita -> only stars are visible (just an example)
or if you want more poetic -> nothing but stars (but maybe too far from original meaning)
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  #7  
Old Oct 19, 2013, 02:41 AM
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Mortavia is correct in saying "everything" is singular, but it's a bad example because you can't replace "all" with "everything" in the track title.

As an example, which is correct: "everyone is doctors" or "everyone are doctors"? Actually, neither is; you'd say "everyone is a doctor."

Likewise, neither "Everything I Saw Was Stars" nor "Everything I Saw Were Stars" is idiomatic. If you were using "everything," you'd write that as "Everything I Saw Was a Star."

Even when "all" is referring to the entirety of something, it can be plural if that entirety is plural: "all of the pie" (singular) vs. "all of the pies" (plural), for example.
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  #8  
Old Oct 19, 2013, 02:52 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CHz View Post
Mortavia is correct in saying "everything" is singular, but it's a bad example because you can't replace "all" with "everything" in the track title.

(and then other stuff)
Good points! I suppose you really can't use the word everything as a substitute here.

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Originally Posted by CHz View Post
Even when "all" is referring to the entirety of something, it can be plural if that entirety is plural: "all of the pie" (singular) vs. "all of the pies" (plural), for example.
This one I don't agree with too much. In your example "all of the pies", the word all is responsible for the word pies. In "all I saw was stars", the word all is not responsible for the word stars, it is response for the word saw, as in what you saw. It doesn't take a plural word even though there is a plural word present in the sentence. But can you explain to me that this example of yours works for this specific track title? Maybe I'm just not seeing it.
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  #9  
Old Oct 19, 2013, 02:59 AM
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you would say "what I saw was->were stars" ?
and then "all I saw was->were stars" ?

does that work like "there" ? -> there are stars / there is a star
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  #10  
Old Oct 19, 2013, 03:06 AM
Hellacia Hellacia is offline
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I didn't expect there to be this much discussion about this at this hour. I left my computer thinking this was done until tomorrow and BAM.

Quote:
Originally Posted by CHz View Post
Even when "all" is referring to the entirety of something, it can be plural if that entirety is plural: "all of the pie" (singular) vs. "all of the pies" (plural), for example.
All of the pies... what?

All of the pies are brown.
The phrase "all of the pies" is a sentence fragment.

"All of the pies" has not been modified, yet the linking verb has. This is because the word "all" can very easily change whether or not it is singular or plural just based on the sentence it is in.

How about we just retranslate the fuckin thing

Last edited by Hellacia; Oct 19, 2013 at 03:09 AM.
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  #11  
Old Oct 19, 2013, 03:36 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mortavia View Post
This one I don't agree with too much. In your example "all of the pies", the word all is responsible for the word pies. In "all I saw was stars", the word all is not responsible for the word stars, it is response for the word saw, as in what you saw.
Let's run with "what you saw."

Suppose you saw a single star. You'd say "what I saw was a star," right? I think this is how everyone would say it.

Now, suppose you saw multiple stars. Would you say "what I saw was stars" or "what I saw were stars"? The first one isn't right because I'm saying that I saw multiple things. "What" is standing in the place of multiple objects here, so it needs a plural verb tense.

So coming back to the track title. If I saw a single star, then I'd write it as "All I Saw Was a Star." But in this case, we're saying I saw multiple things and that they were all stars. Logically, yes, "all" is referring to a totality, but since that totality is a group, we should treat "all" as a group and use a plural verb.

To be really dumb, since I'm saying that the only things I saw were stars, let's replace "all" with "the stars." Which of these is better: "The Stars I Saw Was Stars" or "The Stars I Saw Were Stars"?


Quote:
Originally Posted by Hellacia View Post
All of the pies are brown.
The phrase "all of the pies" is a sentence fragment.

"All of the pies" has not been modified, yet the linking verb has.
You totally modified "all of the pies" there.

In the first sentence, the subject is "all" and "of the pies" is modifying that. "All of the pies" is the complete noun phrase.

In the second sentence, you've changed the subject to "phrase" and "'all of the pies'" is now a separate noun phrase in apposition to "phrase." The linking verb is now "is" because the subject is "phrase" and that's singular.

Really bad example.
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  #12  
Old Oct 19, 2013, 03:49 AM
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as it is "hoshi", you could think there is only one star since "hoshiboshi" can be stars
so "All I Saw Was a Star"

Last edited by Phonograph; Oct 20, 2013 at 12:44 AM.
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  #13  
Old Oct 19, 2013, 04:11 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CHz View Post
"all" is referring to a totality, but since that totality is a group, we should treat "all" as a group and use a plural verb.
This is the part of your explanation that I don't agree with and I think it's the critical part. You're transferring a plural to something that is actually singular. All is referring to a singular totality. If it referred to multiple totalities, which is very possible, then we would need a plural verb. For example:

- People are marching.
People is the quantifier for the linking verb, so the linking verb is plural.

- The group of people is marching.
The single totality of people, the one group, is the quantifier for the linking verb, so the linking verb is singular. You wouldn't say "the group of people are marching" even though the totality is a group, like you described in your example.

- The groups of people are marching.
The multiple totalities of people, the groups, is the quantifier for the linking verb, so the linking verb is plural.

Here's where it gets important to differentiate the use of the word all.
- All the people are marching.
Yes, even though we have a single totality of people, what we're describing with all is, in fact, not a totality - it is each individual person.

Let's replace "stars" with "people".
- All I saw was people.
Now we are not talking about the totality of people as each individual person. We are talking about it as one single whole - a whole unit that I saw. The whole unit of people was the unit that I saw. Not the whole unit of people were the unit that I saw.

In the sentence "all I saw was stars", you have one totality, one unit. It contains a plural - the stars - but it does not describe each individual star, so it is singular and therefore it was the totality that you saw, not were the totality that you saw.

Maybe we're just not going to see eye-to-eye on it, but I appreciate the discussion. Doing a little research, I found this page, which contains the following quote:
Quote:
When the indefinite pronoun all is linked to a plural predicate with a linking verb, the verb is nonetheless singular. Burchfield gives the example of "All I saw was fields."

Authority: The New Fowler's Modern English Usage edited by R.W. Burchfield. Clarendon Press: Oxford, England. 1996. Used with the permission of Oxford University Press.
So apparently, The New Fowler's Modern English Usage corroborates my reasoning. However, the citation is from the 1996 edition and a new edition was released in 2004. Also, it's just one book out of... how many books on the English language? I think it would be interesting to see how many other sources cover this specific topic, but for now, I suppose it's best just to lay it to rest, since it doesn't seem to be anything we can come to a consensus on. Thanks again though, to you and Hellacia, real interesting discussion here.
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  #14  
Old Oct 19, 2013, 10:51 AM
Hellacia Hellacia is offline
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Can somebody come up with a source that says to use "were"? If not, then considering this is backed by an actual publication, and I think that's the first example that actually fully illustrates the point without betraying any rules, then I'm going to change it.

And you're welcome for the discussion I guess but I can't believe you found it enjoyable. I don't dislike discussing things with you two, you're intelligent individuals, but this discussion was really messy and difficult. I like how determined we were to get to the bottom of it, but wow what a bitch it was to do so.

Anyway, if nobody objects to going with the Fowler book and Mortavia's explanation, then I'll change it. (Here comes CHz's counterargument ;__; )

EDIT: I think these are the two most important points.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mortavia View Post
You're transferring a plural to something that is actually singular.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mortavia View Post
... it may still not sound right to some people. Sometimes English is awkward that way I guess, and I can't comment on whether or not we should go with what sounds/seems better versus what is more grammatically correct.
What I take from this, CHz, is that when you hear a plural, like people or stars, it's plural and so sounds like it needs a plural verb, especially when the verb is coming directly after it. Mortavia's first two examples in her last post illustrate this nicely. "People are marching" vs. "The group of people is marching". The word "people" is plural, so it sounds like you should always have a plural verb following it. But as she illustrated, it isn't the case. Remove "of people" and you have "the group is marching". Would you say "the group are marching"? No, but you would say "the groups are marching". Blah blah, I don't need to repeat her too much.

Of course, even after her examples, it could still sound like that. And I guess if you want to go by what sound you like more vs. what's grammatically correct, then... whatever dude But I'm positive that Mortavia and I are describing the grammatically correct usage here.

Last edited by Hellacia; Oct 19, 2013 at 12:44 PM.
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  #15  
Old Oct 19, 2013, 12:56 PM
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Garner's Modern American Usage says this:
Quote:
C. As Subject. All, as subject, may take either a singular or a plural verb. When a plural noun is implied after all, the verb should be plural <all were present>—e.g.: "Until this morning, all were official residents of the three Dadaab refugee camps near the Kenya–Somalia border." David Finkel, "African Refugees Start Journey to Homes in Distant U.S.," Miami Herald, 25 Aug. 2002, at A16. But when all denotes a collective abstraction (as a mass noun), it should take a singular verb <all is well>—e.g.: "All she wants is people to be touched by the gifts she believes God has given her." Johanna D. Wilson, "Black Roots," Sun-News (Myrtle Beach, S.C.), 19 Aug. 2002, at C1.
So that gives an example of using "all" with a plural linking verb to a plural predicate nominative: "all were official residents." I guess, according to Fowler, that should be "all is official residents"? I don't know about you, but that sounds bizarre to me. Maybe there's more to Fowler's rule than what's quoted on that page.

The difference is in what it's implied that "all" is referring to: is "all" quantifying a countable collection, as it is to a group of people in that sentence, or an abstract totality?

When I see "All I Saw Were Stars," the plural "stars" in the predicate implies to me that "all" is standing in for a countable collection: all the things I saw were stars. But it sounds to me like you and Hellacia are interpreting "all" more as an abstract field of vision.
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Old Oct 19, 2013, 03:51 PM
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That's exactly how I'm interpreting it, yes.

So this can go either way and it's typical English -__-
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  #17  
Old Oct 19, 2013, 09:28 PM
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CHz, that's almost exactly like the set of examples I gave. So maybe it's just the difference in what we're interpreting the word all to mean. In the second example you gave, I find it comparable that she could see instead of want and it would still be a single action. Does that make sense? For example, instead of "All she wants is people to be happy" couldn't you say "All she sees is people that are happy?" Both are still referring to people as a collective group, not individually. Now let's pick them apart.

- All she wants is people (singular linking verb, plural in the predicate)
- All she sees is people (singular linking verb, plural in the predicate)

I don't see how the second sentence is any different than the example Garner's Modern American Usage is giving, and the second sentence is exactly what we're dealing with, right? Seeing multiple things, whether it be people or stars, and still using a singular linking verb?

- All she sees is stars
- All she saw was stars (just changed everything to past tense)

And this fits in perfectly with the example you gave, doesn't it? It seems that Garner's Modern American Usage considers people to be the abstract in their example, not want. So, by that reasoning, the stars are the abstract in our sentence, not saw. Maybe we've just been going about explaining it wrong.

Last edited by Mortavia; Oct 19, 2013 at 09:46 PM.
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Old Oct 19, 2013, 10:11 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mortavia View Post
In the second example you gave, I find it comparable that she could see instead of want and it would still be a single action. Does that make sense? For example, instead of "All she wants is people to be happy" couldn't you say "All she sees is people that are happy?" Both are still referring to people as a collective group, not individually.
When you switched the verb, you also changed the object.

"All she wants is people to be happy" -> What she wants is the desire for people to be happy

"All she sees is people that are happy" -> What she sees is a group of people that are happy

Likewise, when you simplified the first one to just "All she wants is people," you changed the object from "people to be happy," which is an infinitive phrase, to "people," which is a plural noun.

You're being loose with nouns and I don't think your changes result in comparable sentences.
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Old Oct 19, 2013, 10:42 PM
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So then the collective abstraction is to be touched and not people?

Is this what Garner's is referring to? Abstract nouns? They are nouns that don't have a physical existence. I suppose that for people to be touched (as in, to be affected) would be a collective abstraction as a mass noun - "people" is the mass noun of the abstraction "being touched", right?

Last edited by Mortavia; Oct 19, 2013 at 11:08 PM.
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Old Oct 19, 2013, 11:43 PM
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Yeah, I think that's what Garner is referring to — vaguely speaking, the "idea" in "person, place, thing, or idea." The other example he gives in section 2 is "all is well": "all" here is a collective abstraction referring to the entirety of existence and isn't really a thing per se.

Like I said a couple of posts ago, I'm pretty sure the difference we're having over "All I Saw Was/Were Stars" is in which of those two categories of Garner's that we're viewing "all." I'm looking at it the first way: what I saw was a group of stars, which is a collective, physical thing, so I'd conjugate the verb as plural. Whereas you and Hellacia are looking at it in the second way, from a level of abstraction: what you saw was the entire field of vision and that entire field of vision was stars, so you'd conjugate the verb as singular because the totality of vision is a collective abstraction and not so much a physical thing.

I think that's kind of a roundabout way of looking at the imagery of the title, but I also can't really argue that it's invalid either.
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Old Oct 19, 2013, 11:58 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CHz View Post
what I saw was a group of stars
I sure hope not, because then you really do have to use "was" as the linking verb!

But yeah, bad puns aside, I think the difference you've described is the dividing difference in the discussion. I think it's been an interesting discussion, thanks again. Seriously, this time I'm done! Unless you want to say something else, haha.

(Seriously, did you get tired of my lame questions?)
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Old Oct 20, 2013, 12:33 AM
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Nah, English grammar is a pseudohobby of mine and I have chats like this with my best friend from time to time. I actually brought this one up with him and we hashed it out for a little bit, heh.

This made me think about all the weird nuances there are in the different ways we use the word "all," so I didn't hate it at all.

So now we can get back to deciding if we want to change the translation or something !!!
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Old Oct 20, 2013, 12:44 AM
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Even though I started it I ended up hating it because I just started it to be right and it ended up being too hard to be right and then there was kind of no "right" just "different"

And honestly I don't care what the track is titled any more
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Old Oct 20, 2013, 12:44 AM
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Change the translation? After all this discussion? But that seems so sad, then it's almost like it was all for nothing. Plus, there's nothing wrong with the translation. It feels wrong to blame the poor translation when it didn't do anything.

I think if anything, good reasoning behind keeping it how we have it now is that aside from all the conflicting grammatical technicalities we've come up with, I think most people will agree that using a plural linking verb with a plural noun in the predicate just sounds more natural. And maybe that makes it more "correct" in its own way. I think we should keep it how it is, there's just not enough concrete evidence that we should change it. If it were more concrete than this, then I would want to change it, but it's not so we should keep it how it is.

Last edited by Mortavia; Oct 20, 2013 at 12:47 AM.
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Old Sep 18, 2019, 12:40 AM
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I added images for the front and back of the registration card.
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