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There is no domestic animal which has so rapidly altered its whole way of living, indeed its whole sphere of interests, that has become domestic in so true a sense as the dog; and there is no animal that, in the course of its centuries-old association with man, has altered so little as the cat.
Is the second 'alter(ed)' in red, is it transitive, as the one in blue, or intransitive? Or is it ambiguous and practically hard to tell?
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Hi Taka,
There is no domestic animal which has so rapidly altered its whole way of living, indeed its whole sphere of interests, that has become domestic in so true a sense as the dog; and there is no animal that, in the course of its centuries-old association with man, has altered so little as the cat.

Is the second 'alter(ed)' in red, is it transitive, as the one in blue, or intransitive? Intransitive.

Or is it ambiguous and practically hard to tell? No. It's not. There is clearly no object anywhere in the associated syntax.

Clive
'Little' can be a noun as in this one, right?

They did little to help the children.
And since it's about the contrast between the dog, which has changed its whole way of living, and the cat, which has changed little of its way of living, wouldn't it also be possible to take it as transitive?
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Hi,
'Little' can be a noun as in this one, right? Yes.

They did little to help the children.

And since it's about the contrast between the dog, which has changed its whole way of living, and the cat, which has changed little of its way of living, wouldn't it also be possible to take it as transitive? I suppose so. But it seems like such an unlikely interpretation that it didn't even occur to me. 'Altered so little' seems to me to have a strongly adverbial feel to it.

In addition, at a semantic level, cats are so independent that we don't think of them as altering anything even in a small way.

Clive
CliveIn addition, at a semantic level, cats are so independent that we don't think of them as altering anything even in a small way.

Clive

What does it have to do with their independency? Cats are independent of men and they have changed so little of their ways of living. To me, it doesn't sound wrong. 


Clive
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I don't know what that smiley is supposed to mean, but you might think cats have not changed anything; they haven't changed anything whatsoever in their ways, which is different from 'having changed so little (of their ways)'. If you think that way, I disagree. As domesticated animals, they have changed a little bit, just a little bit, of their ways of living, so little that if you don't look at them carefully, you won't notice what they've changed; but if you compare them with the relatives in the wild, you'll see the difference. So I don't think there is anything wrong with saying 'during the process of domestication, cats have changed (i.e. altered) so little of their ways of living'.
Hi,
You said 'To me, it doesn't sound wrong'. My smiley just mean 'OK, that's fine by me'.

Adverbial or noun phrase, the meaning seems essentially the same to me.

Best wishes, Clive
OK. So I take it as a message that your default understanding is that it's not transitive but it doesn't mean that taking it as transitive is impossible.
Thanks, Clive. 
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