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"Instead, they have watched the system become deformed over the years by fear of litigation, by insurance costs, by rising competition, by billowing bureaucracy and even by improvements in technology that introduce new risks even as they reduce old ones."

Why isn't it "by the fear of litigation" since "fear" is countable and restricted...Which one do you prefer?

Thanks.
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Starstuff"Instead, they have watched the system become deformed over the years by fear of litigation, by insurance costs, by rising competition, by billowing bureaucracy and even by improvements in technology that introduce new risks even as they reduce old ones."

Why isn't it "by the fear of litigation" since "fear" is countable and restricted...Which one do you prefer?

Thanks.
The main thing being expressed is "deformed by fear".
Thanks milky, but I just found one with "the":

"Conversations with colleagues appear to be impacted by the fear of litigation."

However, on google, there are twice as many "by fear of" as "by the fear of"

Habit of language?
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StarstuffThanks milky, but I just found one with "the":

"Conversations with colleagues appear to be impacted by the fear of litigation."

However, on google, there are twice as many "by fear of" as "by the fear of"

Habit of language?
Bad habits everywhere. Emotion: wink
Starstuff"Instead, they have watched the system become deformed over the years by fear of litigation, by insurance costs, by rising competition, by billowing bureaucracy and even by improvements in technology that introduce new risks even as they reduce old ones."

Why isn't it "by the fear of litigation" since "fear" is countable and restricted...Which one do you prefer?
"Fear" is basically an uncountable noun, although "fears" is possible in certain phrases like "hopes and fears".

We might say both "by fear of" and "by the fear of". Indeed, nearly a half of current English speakers online say "by fear of" and another half say "by the fear of". But it seems formerly the correct form was "by the fear of". The number of hits on Gutenberg.org (an online library containing classic novels written in English) was 655 for "by fear of" and 10,500 for "by the fear of". It appears to be a trend of current English that THE is being dropped off from the phrases in the construct of "preposition+THE+abstract noun+of".

paco
It appears to be a trend of current English that THE is being dropped off from the phrases in the construct of "preposition+THE+abstract noun+of".

Paco,
I think you're onto something. It certainly rings true to me, though I haven't made a formal study of it, nor heard of any. I'm not sure that the "of" phrase after the abstract noun is even necessary.
Jim
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A comparison:
... the system become deformed over the years by fear of litigation, by insurance costs, ...
Conversations with colleagues appear to be impacted by the fear of litigation.

In the first case it is not any specific person's fear; it is fear in general.
In the second case it is specifically the colleagues' fear. It could even be written as ... impacted by their fear of litigation.

CJ
Both of your comments are rather insightful Emotion: smile

And Paco's comment ringed a bell to me, as the sentences I posted earlier, they both follow the trend:

"Use a noun plus the definite article to refer to systems of communication and the mass media,"
"The first group consists of nouns which refer to shared knowledge of the situation or context."

This discovery is so helpful. Thanks a lot guys! Emotion: big smile
Just to show another example of the trend (found on TIME):

"This is an unabashed play to members of the conservative base who are worried about illegal immigration."

The "members" above are a specific group of people, no? However, it does match the trend Paco mentioned...

ps: I have a handful of similar examples.......

Thanks again!
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