+0
Hi,

Frederick Fleet told an official inquiry of a “slight haze” on the horizon before the Titanic struck the iceberg. He said it was significant enough to have discussed with a colleague.

Why was the infinitival perfect used here? The event of his discussing with a colleague occured after he felt the need to talk to someone about the situation. So, here the infinitival perfect doesn't have anything to do with anteriority, in my opinion. Am I wrong about this?

I'd appreciate your help.
1 2 3
Comments  
jooney He said it was significant enough to have discussed with a colleague.
I'm not acquainted with the facts of the case.
I think there are two possible readings:
(1) He said it was sufficiently significant that it should have been discussed with a colleague.
(2) . . . . that it was discussed with a colleague.

If, as you say, he did not discuss it timely, perhaps the first reading is appropriate.

Regards, - A.

Edit. I use the perfect in my #1 from the point of view of his statement at the inquiry.

I know it's confusing. Consider the negative:
He said it was not significant enough to have discussed with a colleague. .
(Perhaps the tenses seem more natural this way.)
I think the "past event" is his appraisal, at the time, of the significance of the mist.
Perhaps he simply failed to act on it.
Thank you for the reply, Avangi.

Let me get this straight first.

What's the exact meaning of the second reading?

The haze was so significant that he talked to his colleague about it.

He saw the haze and it was significant enough for him to tell his colleague about it.

Is this what it means?

So, in this interpretation, the telling event occured after he sensed the danger of the haze. But I have some doubts as to whether the infinitival perfect can be used this way. Is it possible for the infinitival perfect to be used in a subsequent event?

Also, I find some facts confusing.

According to the inquiry, he did tell his mate that there was a light haze coming and he said that the haze didn't interfere with his vision. He didn't seem to be overly concerned about the haze at all.

But his mate, Lee told a different story. He quoted him as saying, "Well, if we can see through that, we wil be lucky."

So which is true? And the original example is based on which version of the story? Lee's version?
Site Hint: Check out our list of pronunciation videos.
jooneyHe said it was significant enough to have discussed with a colleague.
~ Mr. Fleet said that the haze on the horizon [was / had been] so significant that he had discussed it with a colleague.

I'd say that the whole account is anterior to the inquiry in which Mr. Fleet participated.

Compare with:

He said it was significant enough to discuss with a colleague.

~ Mr. Fleet said that the haze on the horizon was so significant that it merited a discussion with a colleague.

This could have the same meaning as the previous statement, but it could also be taken to imply some uncertainty whether the merited discussion ever happened. It would not have happened, for example, if no colleague had been available to discuss the matter with.

_______________________

Edit: I see that Avangi thinks that the original statement may have the interpretation I gave only for my the second example. I'm not so sure Mr. Fleet would have mentioned anything in the inquiry that he should have done but didn't, so I don't see it that way. It may be possible, but I don't think it's plausible.

CJ
CalifJim~ Mr. Fleet said that the haze on the horizon was so significant that it merited a discussion with a colleague.
Exactly! Brilliant!

<< I'm not so sure Mr. Fleet would have mentioned anything in the inquiry that he should have done but didn't>>

Noted.
jooneyHe said it was significant enough to have discussed with a colleague.
it was significant enough to discuss
it was significant enough to have discussed
it was significant enough to have been discussed

None of these necessarily deals with whether or not he discussed it with a colleague.
jooneySo, in this interpretation, the telling event occured after he sensed the danger of the haze. But I have some doubts as to whether the infinitival perfect can be used this way. Is it possible for the infinitival perfect to be used in a subsequent event?
I think the key to your question lies in the fact that "the telling" is not described by a finite verb. (I'm sure you're taking that into account.)
<< He said it was significant enough to have discussed with a colleague.>>

Does the past reference rule apply to infinitives?
Isn't it hypothetical?
Can't we say, "Last night it was slippery enough to have caused an accident. But none occurred." ??

When I said the sentence in question could be interpreted to mean that he in fact discussed it with a colleague (lie or not), I didn't mean the the sentence stated that he did. I believe the implication would have to be read into it.
Students: We have free audio pronunciation exercises.
The thing I've struggled with and have thus far been unable to articulate, is that there's a very common usage in which the non-finite actor is assumed (unstated).

Last night it was cold enough to build a fire. For who to build a fire? a person/me/one/people/etc.

Switching to the perfect infinitive doesn't make a whole heck of a lot of difference in the meaning.
Last night it was cold enough to have built a fire.

It makes absolutely no difference if the fire was actually built or not.
I've heard and used this form all my life, but never attempted to analyze it.
In my opinion, this is the form which Frederick Fleet used.
I have no idea how to go about justifying it.

It was serious enough to call 911, It was serious enough to have called 911. .

The bleeding was serious enough to have treated with a tourniquet. (But nobody did!)

The [perfect] infinitive is simply part of the measure of the seriousness.
AvangiCan't we say, "Last night it was slippery enough to have caused an accident. But none occurred." ??
Yes. I concur.

Nonetheless, when I compare the following two sentences

1 Last night it was slippery enough to cause an accident.
2 Last night it was slippery enough to have caused an accident.

I'm a little more comfortable adding "But none occurred" after 1 than after 2.

Maybe it's just me. Emotion: smile

CJ
it was significant enough to discuss
it was significant enough to have discussed
it was significant enough to have been discussed

None of these necessarily deals with whether or not he discussed it with a colleague.


It seems that you have a different opinion. By looking at CJ's latest answer, I find that it may be something that native speakers don't unanimously agree on.

Thank you very much for your answer, Avangi. Emotion: smile
Students: Are you brave enough to let our tutors analyse your pronunciation?
Show more