• Phrasal verb usage and states of undress

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    I’D like to share my thoughts on two interesting questions, one on phrasal verb usage and the other on word choice.

    This question was posted by Mary Anne Fernandez on my Facebook page: “Are ‘talk with’ and ‘talk to’ interchangeable? Also, is it correct to say ‘Talk with him personally’?”

    My reply to Mary Anne:
    Nowadays, “talk with” and “talk to” are used interchangeably, so it would be foolhardy to argue with anyone on which of them is correct. Strictly speaking though, “talk with” denotes a situation where two people speak with each other interactively, as in “Ana and Greg talked with each other for hours,” while “talk to” denotes a situation where one person does most of the talking, as when a guest speaker talks to an audience until the end of the speech. This distinction between “talk with” and “talk to” has largely been lost in modern usage, but you can get better marks from your grammar teacher or impress a prospective employer if you can distinguish and duly apply the difference between them in your writing and conversations.

    Yes, it’s correct to say “Talk with him personally.” Adding the adverb “personally” indicates a face-to-face conversation as opposed to, say, a phone or Skype conversation where the talkers are separated by a wide expanse of space.

    * * *

    This other question was posted in Jose Carillo’s English Forum by member Baklis: “What’s the difference between ‘nude’ and ‘naked’? When do we use ‘nude’ and when do we use ‘naked’?”

    My reply to Baklis:
    As adjectives, “nude” and “naked” are synonymous in the sense of “bare” or “devoid of a natural or conventional covering, especially by clothing.” Both can be used to describe anything without customary or natural covering, as in “nude Adonis” and “The Naked Maja,” or anything that’s not concealed or disguised, as in “nude painting” and “a naked grab for power.”

    The most common usage for these adjectives is, of course, to describe people in various states of deliberate or careless undress or, in French, en dishabille. I would say that the difference between “nude” and “naked” is the sense of delicacy with which the bare human figure is presented or posed for viewing. By this yardstick, the artistry in the rendering of, say, “The Birth of Venus” by the Italian painter Botticelli (http://tinyurl.com/hwvuoq5) would qualify the central figure in the painting as a “nude Venus”; in contrast, a pornographic movie typically titillates viewers by showing “a naked couple”—never “a nude couple”—having uninhibited sex. In short, the perception of “nudity” or “nakedness” is in the eye of both the presenter and the beholder.

    Baklis posted this rejoinder: “I thought it’s like in Tagalog wherein we have ‘hubo’ and ‘hubad.’ The former means ‘walang saplot mula baywang pababa’ while the latter means ‘walang damit mula baywang pataas.’ Those definitions are from UP Diksyonaryong Filipino.”

    My response to that rejoinder:
    I don’t think English operates in the same wavelength as Tagalog when it comes to nudity and nakedness.“Hubo” and “hubad” seem to mean “naked” in English in the same degree no matter the state of undress. Neither of these Tagalog words, despite their precision in specifying the state of undress of the human body, conveys the sense of delicacy that “nude” does. Of course, the Tagalog “walang saplot mula baywang pababa” does approximate the English phrase “half-naked,” but “walang damit mula baywang pataas” doesn’t seem to have an English equivalent at all; in fact, it sounds grotesque when imagined in terms of an adult human body.

    It seems to me that the Tagalog vocabulary doesn’t provide for fine distinctions between “nude” and “naked” from the aesthetic standpoint; it’s content with “hubo” and “hubad” to describe undress regardless of the intent of the presenter or the beholder of the nakedness.

    Visit Jose Carillo’s English Forum, http://josecarilloforum.com. Visit me on Facebook. Follow me at Twitter.com @J8Carillo. E-mail: j8carillo@yahoo.com

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