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Old 02-12-2010, 02:06 PM   #1
Valmargaret
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Question I don't understand the meaning of a phrase...


Hi all/anyone.
I'm new here, so hope I do this properly.
I am an TEFL teacher, but I have part of a sentence in a language book that I don't understand:
'He capitalised on her weakness at the time and she sold it to him.'
This is part of an exercise, in which the student must change 'capitalised' for a phrasal verb (= took advantage of).
But I don't get the end of the sentence and would like to be able to explain, as I'm sure the student will ask what it means.
Is there such an expression as 'sell it to someone'? Hope someone can help. Thanks.
 
Old 02-12-2010, 02:14 PM   #2
GrapefruiTgirl
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Maybe that means something to someone, as part of regular chit-chat somewhere, but to me, it is implying that she literally "sold something" to the fellow. I have never heard the expression "..sell it to someone.." except where it literally means what it says; to explain:

Let's say the woman's husband dies suddenly; she needs money. 'The Guy' comes along, and offers to take off of her hands some of her dead husband's belongings "for a good price". What 'The Guy' actually does, is capitalize on her weakness (she's distracted/thoughtless/weak due to the husband's death) and rip her off: she sells (the items) it to 'The Guy' for much less than it is worth.

So, as a stand-alone phrase, I take it literally.

Maybe if there are supporting sentences surrounding this one, which would put it in some context, I would interpret it differently.

Sasha
 
Old 02-12-2010, 02:20 PM   #3
smeezekitty
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GrapefruiTgirl View Post
Maybe that means something to someone, as part of regular chit-chat somewhere, but to me, it is implying that she literally "sold something" to the fellow. I have never heard the expression "..sell it to someone.." except where it literally means what it says; to explain:

Let's say the woman's husband dies suddenly; she needs money. 'The Guy' comes along, and offers to take off of her hands some of her dead husband's belongings "for a good price". What 'The Guy' actually does, is capitalize on her weakness (she's distracted/thoughtless/weak due to the husband's death) and rip her off: she sells (the items) it to 'The Guy' for much less than it is worth.

So, as a stand-alone phrase, I take it literally.

Maybe if there are supporting sentences surrounding this one, which would put it in some context, I would interpret it differently.

Sasha
Ahm...Forgot to move the thread did we?
 
Old 02-12-2010, 02:21 PM   #4
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It's already been reported for move to General.
 
Old 02-12-2010, 02:24 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Valmargaret View Post
Is there such an expression as 'sell it to someone'?
In a different context, that phrase could mean "convince" (make someone believe something). But not in the context you quoted.

As Sasha said, the phrase appears to be literal (so that "it" refers to something outside of the quoted text). As Sasha also said, the whole quote makes sense in some context in which the offer was less than a fair price.

Quote:
This is part of an exercise, in which the student must change 'capitalised' for a phrasal verb (= took advantage of).
I hope you mean "capitalized on" is replaced by "took advantage of".

Last edited by johnsfine; 02-12-2010 at 02:28 PM.
 
Old 02-12-2010, 02:26 PM   #6
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Hmm. Johnsfine gave me a thought: The phrase *could* have a different meaning if it read, "He sold it to her:

"In her moment of weakness, he sold it to her."

meaning that, he pulled a fast one on her, i.e. took advantage of her, in her moment of weakness..
 
Old 02-12-2010, 02:28 PM   #7
Valmargaret
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Smile

Thanks Sasha.
There aren't any other sentences that could clarify by context.
But that does sound like a logical explanation.
Thank you.
 
Old 02-12-2010, 02:29 PM   #8
damgar
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Everything points to a literal reading and that the man took advantage of her. For instance selling her newly dead husband's mint condition classic car for $500. .."He capitalised on her weakness at the time and she sold it to him."
 
Old 02-12-2010, 02:31 PM   #9
Valmargaret
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Quote:
Originally Posted by johnsfine View Post
In a different context, that phrase could mean "convince" (make someone believe something). But not in the context you quoted.

As Sasha said, the phrase appears to be literal (so that "it" refers to something outside of the quoted text). As Sasha also said, the whole quote makes sense in some context in which the offer was less than a fair price.



I hope you mean "capitalized on" is replaced by "took advantage of".
Yes, it's capitalised on - I only put part of the sentence there, as I was concentrating on the end part... ; )
 
Old 02-12-2010, 02:34 PM   #10
Valmargaret
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GrapefruiTgirl View Post
Hmm. Johnsfine gave me a thought: The phrase *could* have a different meaning if it read, "He sold it to her:

"In her moment of weakness, he sold it to her."

meaning that, he pulled a fast one on her, i.e. took advantage of her, in her moment of weakness..
Think your first reply makes more sense - as the sentence ends 'she sold it to him'. So I think she sold something at a lower price than it's value.
 
Old 02-12-2010, 02:35 PM   #11
Valmargaret
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Thanks

Thanks all.
It just makes sense now, where I couldn't make any of it before.
Maybe I over-complicated the sentence when I first read it.
Have a lovely evening.
 
Old 02-13-2010, 06:50 AM   #12
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Quote:
'He capitalised on her weakness at the time and she sold it to him.
The way I understand it, this is a sample of the rhetorical figure that is known as "congeries" a.k.a. "continued metaphor".
The verb "capitalized" is extracted from the financial domain so it is out of its place here as we are not literally trading in weaknesses. However, it can be used by analogy (in other words, as a metaphor), i.e. one can posit that the person who is seeking to take advantage of a person's character is acting like a merchant or an investor who is seizing on a business opportunity with a view to making a profit. This way of speaking makes things more lively. Just as importantly, it introduces a certain slant ("connotation") that reflects badly on him as it suggests that he, by acting like a merchant in this situation, is a cold, calculating person who tends to treat people as objects.
Figurative language is then continued in the second clause, where the verb "sold" is borrowed from the same financial isotopia (isotopia means a bundle of words that refer to one and the same aspect of reality, in this case "finance, business"). Like "capitalised", it is to be understood by analogy: what we really mean is "submit, give in" but again we prefer a different term because of the liveliness and the connotations.

Of course, all of this supposes that the sentence appears in isolation. If it were embedded in a context (for example, if it is part of a story about two people negotiating about the price of, say, a vase), then the "it" in "she sold it" could refer to an object. If so, "sold" would be perfectly literal.

Last edited by jay73; 02-13-2010 at 11:55 AM.
 
Old 02-13-2010, 08:10 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jay73 View Post
Figurative language is then continued in the second clause ... what we really mean is "submit, give in" but again we prefer a different term because of the liveliness and the connotations.
You are way over analyzing it.

Quote:
Of course, all of this supposes that the sentence appears in isolation. If it were embedded in a context (for example, if it is part of a story
If the sentence appeared in isolation it wouldn't work. It only make sense as part of a story, in part because "she sold it to him" does not work in that sentence as figurative language.

As an English lesson with the focus on "capitalized on" it works without needing to know what "it" or "her weakness" were in the story. You can assume the sentence was lifted from some story in which "it" and "her weakness" were explained. But you can understand "capitalized on" in that sentence even without knowing the surrounding story.
 
Old 02-13-2010, 10:06 AM   #14
moxieman99
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Valmargaret View Post
Hi all/anyone.
I'm new here, so hope I do this properly.
I am an TEFL teacher, but I have part of a sentence in a language book that I don't understand:
'He capitalised on her weakness at the time and she sold it to him.'
This is part of an exercise, in which the student must change 'capitalised' for a phrasal verb (= took advantage of).
But I don't get the end of the sentence and would like to be able to explain, as I'm sure the student will ask what it means.
Is there such an expression as 'sell it to someone'? Hope someone can help. Thanks.
Like the others, I think that the "sold it" phrase is literal. I would look at the material before that phrase and see if there was something she possessed that she was reluctant to sell and the "it" refers to that.

IF there is nothing in the material above that could be the "it" then we fall back on that old stand by, sex. She gave him her virginity or sexual favors, possibly for money. "It" in such a case is simply being coy.

Last edited by moxieman99; 02-13-2010 at 10:08 AM.
 
Old 02-13-2010, 07:36 PM   #15
smeezekitty
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Quote:
if there is nothing in the material above that could be the "it" then we fall back on that old stand by, sex. She gave him her virginity or sexual favors, possibly for money. "it" in such a case is simply being coy.
rotflmfao
 
  


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