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I am studying English and it is still difficult for me to understand the exact meaning of some words or sentences. Therefore, I am asking for your help. As for learning and practicing, I decided to translate documentaries. The sentence below makes it difficult for me to understand it:

A million mornings forgotten by the mind of man.

After I metaphrase this sentence into the target language, its meaning becomes that "Man literally forgot a million mornings", which, of course, does not fit the context at all.

However, if I make a paraphrase for a more accurate understanding of the sentence, then I get such a meaning of the sentence "A million years forgotten by the man". I am omitting the word "mind" from the original sentence and changing word "morning" to "year" because I think that a million mornings represent a million days, which is quite consistent with the word "years".

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  • Based on those words alone, there's no way to tell what the meaning is. The problem is that the sentence is metaphorical and not intended to be read literally. So much of the meaning will be not specifically in what the individual words mean, but in what they connote, or remind us of. And those in turn depend on things beyond this one sentence. In particular, the context matters. Now I see from Googling that the phrase is from the movie, Moonwalk One, but it's right at the start, before the context is set! Perhaps you could try watching the movie and then looking at the sentence again?
    – tkp
    Nov 4 '21 at 23:21
  • There are a million mornings in 2740 years, so you've rescaled it considerably. Nov 4 '21 at 23:49
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The words in the phrase are chosen partly for alliteration; there are four words starting with the letter "m." There are also a few figures of speech to understand:

  • The phrase is using the definition of man that's numbered as "B2" here: "the human race," mankind, not an individual person.
  • "Morning" is being used figuratively to refer to days. There's a word for using a part of something to stand for the whole thing, synecdoche (but yes, I had to look it up and didn't remember!). Even the passage of days is being used to represent the stream of time in general (there's a famous Shakespearean quote that does something similar: "Tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow creeps in this petty pace from day to day").

All of it adds up, as the text combines a few sentence fragments like poetry, to suggest something along the lines of: "Human history has been long and has come far. We have been looking to the stars (including our sun) for longer than recorded history, since ages that have long since been forgotten."

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