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Is "Cold water becomes hot water." logically correct?

I know it’s a redundant version of "Water becomes hot."

I think it’s logically wrong because it’s the same as "Water becomes water." because modifiers just restrict the meaning, they don't change the meaning.

I thought modifiers are just optional.

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    Why do you think it is logically wrong? It would be more comparable if you say "cold water becomes hot" (the second water is omitted)
    – Juliana Karasawa Souza
    Jul 28, 2021 at 12:55
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    When you heat cold water it becomes hot water. What's puzzling about that?
    – Robusto
    Jul 28, 2021 at 12:55
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    Perhaps my understanding of "logic" differs, but this seems to have more to do with the nature of modifiers in English. Jul 28, 2021 at 13:13
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    It's perfectly idiomatic to say, "a caterpillar becomes a butterfly," even though the two states of the insect never exist at the same time. Jul 28, 2021 at 13:34
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    What language do you speak? What language is there in which "Cold water becomes hot water" (translated literally) is not sensible. . . Of course modifiers change the meaning. They "modify" it!
    – James K
    Jul 28, 2021 at 14:12

2 Answers 2

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I think you're applying 'change' and 'restrict' to different things.

Cold water becomes hot water.

is not redundant or a redundant version of "Water becomes water." or "Water becomes hot."

There are things and then there are the words to describe things. If your use of 'water' is about water in general, then applying 'cold' to 'water' is not changing the meaning of 'water' it is talking about a different concept, namely the subset of (the 'restriction' to) water that is cold. If you apply an adjective, you're now talking about a different thing. It doesn't change the meaning of 'water', it's referring to something different, water that is cold.

So

Cold water becomes hot water

is talking about something slightly different from sentences where you remove any of those words.

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The verb 'become' is broad enough to cover changes in transient properties as well as in attributes (inherent properties).

  • Moses' staff became a serpent.
  • The small fire became a raging inferno.
  • She became very cold.
  • He waffled on at length; his hot coffee became a cold coffee.

'Cold water becomes hot water [on being heated a certain amount]' is grammatical, logical, and does not strain standard meanings. What it does strain is the bounds of what people consider idiomatic. The 'coffee' example above is acceptable as quirky, but 'Cold water becomes hot water' sounds laboured, a truism, without comparable 'padding'.

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