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The passage below is from Fathoms: The World in the Whale Hardcover by Rebecca Giggs.


She’s a marine scientist who worked for five years on the Nisshin Maru, on whales. Now she works with fish stocks sardines and mackerel, mostly. Gesturing behind us, she refers to the Nisshin as ‘this ship’ (‘Now, could you have gone aboard this ship? No.’) a small quirk of English, this ship here, or that ship there, that reminds me how subtly a language implies a perimeter of intimacy between object and speaker.


This passage is not difficult in its literal meaning, but I don’t think I know what it implies.

The problem starts at the part of parentheses.

(‘Now, could you have gone aboard this ship? No.’)


Literally, yes, no problem, but (Gee, What on earth is the purpose of this sentence?) implicitly nothing comes up to my mind.


So, neither can I get the implicit meaning of ‘a small quirk of English’, that is, why the sentence in brackets is a small quirk characteristic of English.


Nor can I ‘a perimeter of intimacy’.

(‘A perimeter of intimacy’ seems, though I’m not sure, to be ‘a degree of nearness.’ Am I right?)


Thanks in advance.

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As far as I can tell, the "small quirk of English" refers to her saying "this ship" owing to emotional closeness ("intimacy"), rather than the "that ship" that might normally be expected given the ship's physical location relative to the speaker. I suppose that the bracketed sentence is just the sentence that she spoke, in which she used the phrase "this ship"?

Edit: Or are they in fact on board the Nisshin? If so, my explanation doesn't make sense.

Comments  
Stenka25Literally, yes, no problem, but (Gee, What on earth is the purpose of this sentence?) implicitly nothing comes up to my mind.

Me, neither. I guess it made sense to the writer in her own mind at the time, but it didn't come out on the paper.

Stenka25So, neither can I get the implicit meaning of ‘a small quirk of English’, that is, why the sentence in brackets is a small quirk characteristic of English.

Same problem.

Stenka25Nor can I ‘a perimeter of intimacy’.(‘A perimeter of intimacy’ seems, though I’m not sure, to be ‘a degree of nearness.’ Am I right?)

No. A perimeter surrounds things, encloses them. Beyond the perimeter is outside. The intimacy extends only so far, out as far as the imaginary perimeter.

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 GPY's reply was promoted to an answer.

Thanks a lot as always, GPY.

Thanks a lot as always, Anonymous.

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