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Hello all,

Here I have extracted several sentences from the Star Heritage Manual, which I am not sure I translated correctly. Could you read them and write if something is wrong wioth them?

1. We're glad to present to you our new project, the game "Star Heritage". You are to assume the role of [a?] secret agent of the Central Union of Human Colonies who has suffered a crash on an unknown planet, far from the interstellar routes.

2. The comfortable interface, developed specifically for this game, will help you communicate with the program in an easy way.

3. The control panel <...> consists of several windows with (or of?) different functions.

4. Zero value of [the ?] Health corresponds to death.

5. Go. Upon choosing this command you are given a (or the?) list of directions (north, south, west, east).

In case somebody agrees to scan the whole translation, it is here:
http://www.EnglishForward.com/English/StarHeritageTranslationUserGuide/dbzrn/Post.htm
Comments  
Hi,

1. We're glad to present to you our new project, the game "Star Heritage". You are to assume the role of a secret agent of the Central Union of Human Colonies who has suffered a crash on an unknown planet, far from the interstellar routes.

2. The user-friendly interface, developed specifically for this game, will help you communicate with the program in an easy way.

3. The control panel consists of several windows with different functions.

4. Zero health value corresponds to death.

5. Go. Upon choosing this command you are given a list of directions (north, south, west, east
).

Best wishes, Clive
Thank you very much, Clive!

The only thing I didn't understand is #5. That list always consists of the four directions, so why is the indefinite article correct?

A similar example:
«Can I have a list of the people you have called today?»

Can you explain such situations? What is meant by "list" is quite a certain thing here...
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Hi again,

The only thing I didn't understand is #5. That list always consists of the four directions, so why is the indefinite article correct?

A similar example:
«Can I have a list of the people you have called today?»

Can you explain such situations? What is meant by "list" is quite a certain thing here...


Let me try a different kind of explanation. The first time you mention something to me, say 'a'. That makes the thing specific/definite in our conversation. So thereafter, you can say 'the' and I'll know the thing you are talking about.

A man with a scar on his nose and a parrot sitting on his shoulder came into the room. The man sat down. The man smiled at me.

Best wishes, Clive
Thanks for this purely universal answer!

But why is "the" used below:
«Some sets, such as the set of all teacups, are not members of themselves. Other sets, such as the set of all non-teacups, are members of themselves. Call the set of all sets that are not members of themselves "R." If R is a member of itself, then by definition it must not be a member of itself. Similarly, if R is not a member of itself, then by definition it must be a member of itself.»

I don't see any pricipal difference between "a list of the four directions" and "the set of all" or "the set of all sets that...". Why not "a set of..."?
Hi,

As you know, I was trying to offer a general principle that might be useful. However, there are lots of special contexts and idiomatic situations . This is what makes it very hard for native speakers to explain articles clearly. However, let me try a few comments on your latest example.

You could use 'a set' rather than 'the set', without really changing the meaning.

The 'the' stresses that there is only one set of all tea-cups, and this uniqueness of each set is the point of the whole paragraph.

There is only one set of all tea-cups. But, there can be 500 lists of the four directions. Or maybe no list.

Articles are tricky, aren't they?

Best wishes, Clive
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Good evening,

«The 'the' stresses that there is only one set of all tea-cups, and this uniqueness of each set is the point of the whole paragraph.»

The point is the paradox about the set R, IMHO.

«There is only one set of all tea-cups. But, there can be 500 lists of the four directions. Or maybe no list.»

Oh, that's something I didn't think of, that many lists are possible. Now I understand it, or, at least, it seems to me that I do...

Thank you for the help.

«Articles are tricky, aren't they?»

To some extent. The main point is to understand how the natives think of things...