1. CH878
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    CH878 Active Member

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    Repulsed towards?

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by CH878, Dec 15, 2011.

    I'm writing an essay at the moment an I've got the following sentence:

    "Some of the language choices make the reader feel repulsed towards Engleby"

    The "feel repulsed towards" bit just doesn't seem right though, but I can't think of how else to express it. Do you feel repulsed towards something?

    Any help would be much appreciated.
     
  2. art
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    art Contributing Member Contributor

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    Repulsed by or perhaps
    Repulsion towards

    are much happier choices.
     
  3. CH878
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    CH878 Active Member

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    Repulsed by, of course.

    Thanks very much art
     
  4. Cacian
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    Cacian Banned

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    Iunderstand it differently'

    To be repulsed by means the repulse comes from something.

    He is repulsed by the site of it.
    The site is repulsive

    To be repulsed towards means it coming from within the person who is saying it.
    He is repulsed towards Engleby means the repulsness comes from the HE and not Engleby.
     
  5. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    sorry, wrong again, cacian... first of all, 'repulse' isn't a noun, so there's no such thing as 'the repulse'...

    the noun version is 'repulsion'... and it does not come from anything... it's a feeling within a person [or a magnetic force] that may be triggered by something/someone, but does not originate there... it originates only in the person who feels it... or, in the case of a magnet, triggered by proximity to one of the same electric charge...

    one is repulsed by... that means the object/person/feeling pushes you away from it, or makes you feel an aversion to it... so 'towards' can't work with it...
     
  6. architectus
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    architectus Banned

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    Maia, I'm not sure I've ever really disagreed with you. You are to the point and correct.
     
  7. Raki
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    Raki Contributing Member

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    Well, I'm hardheaded and argumentative sometimes, so I'll disagree. :)

    One can be repulsed towards something. Here, I think the definition of "towards" would be "with regard to" or "with respect to," not as a direction either figuratively or literally (though I think it could still work if it were a direction). Personally, I think "towards" is a better word to use here than "by," because we already gather that "some of the language choices" are causing the feelings of repulsion, so to tell us the feelings of repulsion are also coming from Engleby is somewhat confusing. Of course, depending what context it sits in, we may know that the language choices are Engleby's, but still, Engleby isn't the one causing the repulsion, it's the language choices. So another way to phrase it, "Some of the language choices make the reader repulsed with regard to Engleby." ...Hope that makes sense.

    I would also say that "feel repulsed" is somewhat redundant since repulsion is a feeling (or seems to be in this context) and repulsed is to cause the feeling of repulsion. So just: "Some of the language choices make the reader repulsed towards Engleby." Or, "Some of the language choices make the reader feel repulsion towards Engleby."

    Edit: Actually, I'm wrong. One would have to rephrase the sentence for anything above to apply since "repulsed" is a transitive verb. Perhaps: "Some of the language choices repulsed the reader towards Engleby."
     
  8. art
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    art Contributing Member Contributor

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    Google n-grams is a great tool for these sorts of queries. So, eg repulsed towards is very rare but when found is discovered in descriptions of battles and physical confrontations...and indeed, to use it here would be - near enough - saying the opposite of what is surely intended/required.
     
  9. digitig
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    digitig Contributing Member Contributor

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    "Repulsed" means pushed away, so "repulsed towards" would be a contradiction. I'd go for "repulsed by" too.
     
  10. digitig
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    digitig Contributing Member Contributor

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    "Repulsed" means pushed away, so "repulsed towards" would be a contradiction. I'd go for "repulsed by" too.
     
  11. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    yes, it would definitely be contradictory... just google 'repulsed towards' with " " around it and you'll see that there are really no legitimate correct uses of the term...

    one may be able to get away with saying 'felt a repulsion towards' someone/something, but even that reads awkwardly and i'm not sure it would be totally correct grammatically...

    arch...
    we do seem to agree most, if not all the time... :rolleyes:
     
  12. art
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    art Contributing Member Contributor

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    There are legitimate uses but they would not meet CH's needs.

    eg The French assailed the English line but were repulsed towards the Seine.

    'Repulsion towards' is certainly legitimate and has been and is used, but since it retains that strong flavour of contradiction is surely less happy than 'repulsed by.'
     
  13. art
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    art Contributing Member Contributor

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    There are legitimate uses but they would not meet CH's needs.

    eg The French assailed the English line but were repulsed towards the Seine.

    'Repulsion towards' is certainly legitimate and has been and is used, but since it retains that strong flavour of contradiction is surely less happy than 'repulsed by.'
     
  14. Raki
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    Raki Contributing Member

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    I agree about the legitimate use, but still think that it could be crafted to meet CH's needs. Consider my above example:

    "Some of the language choices repulse the reader towards Engleby." Here, the language choices are causing the feelings of repulsion (though repulse is being used as a verb and not an adjective) to the reader with respect to Engleby. It makes perfect sense and is less wordy.

    "Some of the language choices make the reader feel repulsed towards Engleby" I think also means the same thing (Some of the language choices are causing the reader to feel repulsed in regards to Engleby), but is less clear. If you change the word "towards" to "by," you are changing the meaning of the sentence and creating more confusion (Some of the language choices make the reader feel repulsed and the reader feels repulsed by Engleby). For example, if you cut off "towards Engleby," you do not really change the meaning of the sentence. "Some of the language choices make the reader feel repulsed," which means the same as "Some of the language choices repulse the reader." However, with the latter, it would look rather odd to place a "by Engleby" at the end ("Some of the language choices repulse the reader by Engleby." (almost sounds like a swear :))) and "towards Engleby" or "with respect to Engleby" would fit much better.

    Here, I take the meaning of "repulsed" to be "driven back," and when one is driven back away from something, they are usually going towards something else. It makes sense that one can be repulsed (driven back) toward something. I see it as legitimate, and in this example, one already has the information of who is doing the repulsing and what they are being repulsed away from. :) Consider how it would change this sentence if you swapped the word "towards" with "by."
     
  15. art
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    art Contributing Member Contributor

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    This is an heroic stand, Raki! It brings tears to the eye.:)
    But it is a stand in opposition both to reason and conventional usage.

    'Repulsed towards' would have readers moving to Engleby (embracing him perhaps, accepting him) rather than recoiling from him, which is surely what CH has in mind ...and indeed is what you say CH has in mind when you proffer alternatives other than your 'repulsed towards' one.
     
  16. Raki
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    Raki Contributing Member

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    I said I'm argumentative. My ship may be on fire, but it's not sunk yet. :)

    Seriously though, the use of repulsed in CH's example does not mean "driven back" (or any type of a directional (repelling) action as it does in its use in your example of the French and English). It simply means to cause feelings of repulsion (disgust, distaste, etc.). Since that is so, "towards" can not work as a direction either (because there is nothing to direct), so it must take up one of its lesser definitions. And dictionary.com has a few examples of these definitions from itself and the World English Dictionary that I've already listed. Consider these examples, "her feelings towards me" and "his attitude toward women." The first example fits it spot on. What if one of her feelings was repulsion? It could be phrased, "Her repulsion towards me" or "She feels repulsed towards me" (or consider: "She feels disgusted towards me"). The thing to note here is that "by" makes me responsible for that feeling of repulsion and "towards" does not. There is something else making her feel that way about me, and in CH's example, it is "Some of the language choices," not "Engleby," causing the feelings of repulsion. Now this isn't saying one must use "towards" instead of "by," but it depends on what one intends. I do not view either as wrong (though I do not really like how it's phrased :)).

    At least, that's how I break it down. And I could very well be wrong, but it makes sense to me (though I may be terrible at explaining how). But about what CH intended or had in mind, I've no idea if he's talking about Engleby's language choices or perhaps Engleby is a professor who assigned a language test or Engleby is a book ... etc. Without further context, I have no way of knowing Engleby's association with the language choices (he could be a character mentioned in the language choices for all I know) so I cannot tell CH to use "by" or "toward," but only explain the difference between the two (and he seems to have settled on a choice after the first response, so maybe it has just been about making sure the difference is noted :)).
     
  17. Cacian
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    Cacian Banned

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    Can you say an object is repulsive and therefore repulsion is not a feeling but more of a statement.
     
  18. Prophetsnake
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    Prophetsnake Contributing Member

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    Anything is possible if you ignore definition. The most likely outcome, however, is confusion.
     
  19. digitig
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    digitig Contributing Member Contributor

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    I'm not sure what you mean by contrasting a feeling with a statement. Being repulsive can be literal or figurative. If it's literal then something is actually pushed away; if it's figurative then somebody has a feeling that they want to distance themselves. Both of those are statements.
     
  20. Cacian
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    Cacian Banned

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    I mean I can find something that looks say repulsive/not nice to look at.
    So in effect I am not feeling repulsed but what I am saying is this looks repulsive.
     
  21. digitig
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    digitig Contributing Member Contributor

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    If you say that something looks repulsive when it does not make you feel repulsed [1] then you are making an incorrect statement.

    [1] or, pedantically, if it does not look as if it will physically repel.
     
  22. Cacian
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    Cacian Banned

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    Of course I do understand this.
    But let's consider a different example we agree that something perfect is usually pleasant to look at because it is right.
    Like looking at a brand new car.
    Now take a completey old and crashed car that has had bumps and lumps and does not look good to look at.
    The car is imperfect.
    Can I then say it is the actual car that is 'repulsive/not right' rather then I towards it?
     
  23. digitig
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    digitig Contributing Member Contributor

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    Yes, you can. "Repulsive" might be a bit strong for a car in a bad state; I'd tend to reserve the word for cases when I have trouble suppressing my gag reflex. But maybe you feel that way about old cars.
     
  24. Cacian
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    Cacian Banned

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    Maybe a car is a bad example.
    I actually do like vintage cars..I meant more of a bashed bumpy car..
    But do you agree that something can be repulsive and that could be solely aesthetic rather then a feeling?
    We humans tend to think that perfect is beautiful or an object is good to look at because the object is perfect.
    so then an object that is deformed or does not comply to the idea of 'perfect' might be called ugly/not nice..I mean these are just examples/
     
  25. art
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    art Contributing Member Contributor

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    Evening, Raki.

    The definition of repulse rests upon a physical action - the physical action of being driven back. When it is used to mean disgusted it indicates a disgust so strong that one recoils from the object contemplated.

    Sure, some use it (carelessly) as a mere synonym for disgust but even when this the case, the fundamental definition of the word and its history does not disappear.... those elements remain. The good writer is alive to the history, the resonances, the core meanings of words and deploys them with sensitivity. The bad writer throws them about with no care.

    The same is true for towards, incidentally. While it can mean something nebulous like in regards to etc the notion of physical movement is never lost. This is why 'repulsion towards', with its contradictory flavour, strikes the fastidious reader as infelicitous (though it is not uncommon). 'Repulsed towards' contains a yet stronger contradictory flavour - too much even for the most brutish writer - and thus is simply not used as you would have us use it.

    Two Christmas presents for you, Raki:

    http://books.google.com/ngrams

    (Input a word or phrase (or a number of them to compare)The resulting graphs are lovely but be sure to click on the highlighted dates below to give an idea of how the word/phrase has been/is used.)

    And, given the circs;):

    http://www.eskimo.com/~lhowell/bcp1662/misc/sea.html
     

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