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Julian Assange plans to walk out of Ecuador’s embassy a free man, avoiding arrest and extradition to Sweden to face questioning about sexual assault and rape allegations. (The Age)

A free man’ gives me these two possible interpretations.
[A] ‘A free man’ seems to be a result predicative adjunct. So the sentence means: Julian Assange plans to walk out of Ecuador’s embassy and become a free man with the result of his walking out.
[B] Assange plans to walk out of the embassy ‘as a free man,’ after the change of British government’s attitude toward him. Which is right? Or Are there any other interpretations?

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2  
Depictive, not resultative. –  snailboat Aug 19 at 1:20
    
@snailplane, Thank you so much, I reconsulted the pages. –  Listenever Aug 19 at 4:02

2 Answers 2

up vote 3 down vote accepted

The meaning is B, but this is an awkward use of the phrase.

A free man is an idiomatic expression with a certain meaning. To wit, it's for those being released from prison, a hostage situation, slavery or the like. Free is used in a literal, physical manner: released from captivity. Even if used metaphorically (e.g. you broke up with your abusive girlfriend; you're a free man now), the sense of free remains the same, as the metaphor likens the situation to being imprisoned. But Assange was not in prison; he was hiding in an embassy. He was not there against his will and could have chosen to leave at any time.

The sentence from the article uses free to mean to be able to act as one wants; unconstrained by troubles or worries. Certainly that's a correct statement; when Assange leaves the embassy he will no longer be worried about being arrested by British authorities, and being pursued obviously put serious constraints on his choices. But this sense of free isn't the same as the one in a free man.

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I vote for [B].

The sentence means that Assange plans to leave when allegations and indictments against him have been dismissed.

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