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... Snape whirled about, robes swishing behind him, and stormed out of the ward.

"Fellow seems quite unbalanced," said Fudge, staring after him. "I'd watch out for him if I were you, Dumbledore." ...

I'm wondering why 'fellow' doesn't take any article in this sentence. The word 'fellow' is an accountable noun, so I think it should be "The fellow seems quite unbalanced". Any thought?

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Because it's a curt colloquialism that relies on physical context for its specificity and clarity.

Dude's got a bad attitude!

It means "That fellow" in your example and "That dude" in this one. The person you're speaking with knows who you are referring to since you are both present, and your body language may even be gesturing in some way towards the fellow, such as with a slight nod of your head in his general direction, or by turning away from the fellow to address your interlocutor. The demonstrative adjective does this pointing virtually.

Certainly you could say "That fellow seems quite unbalanced..." or "The fellow seems quite unbalanced".

  • Could it be because the speaker tries to be less offensive or something in case the person he refers to might overhear it? – dan Dec 1 '18 at 10:47
  • Since the same construction can be used when speaking loudly so as to be overhead, I don't think we can say with any certainty that the omission of the demonstrative is an attempt to be tactful or an attempt to avoid being specific for the sake of "plausible deniability". But it's not impossible. – Tᴚoɯɐuo Dec 1 '18 at 11:36

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