3

Take a look at this picture. The slide behind Steve Jobs says:

300 [pixels per inch] is limit of human retina.

My question: why is there no indefinite article before limit and why is there no definite article before human retina?

The indefinite article before limit seems to be needed because the human retina has many limits, and the definite article before human retina seems to be needed because we are talking about a specific part of the human eye. This question is very similiar the one I posted earlier, but this time OED is silent on limit (either that or I'm just stupid, and I won't be surprised if it's the latter).

Also, it very well may be ellipsis and I'm overthinking.

What do you think?

3

I agree with you on the need of articles in the slide but remember, those are business presentations and just like headlinese, we take some liberty to play around the words without bothering much about grammar especially articles.

If you are talking about the human organ's capacity, in fact, I'd vote for the definite article. Let's make a sentence stating the capacity of a human lung to hold the volume of air -

6 liter of air is the limit/average of a human lung.

Most of such facts are defined by medical books and there, the definite article is used. Being a healthcare provider, I've used the definite article to mention the limit or capacity of a human organ in that way to my students.

I also agree that definite article is missing to define the human retina. We often say, "There are 'x' thousand veins and arteries in the human body."

This is my opinion. Let others answer though!

  • Yes, it really seems like ellipsis (i.e., as you said "... those are business presentations and just like headlinese, we take some liberty to play around the words without bothering much about grammar especially articles"). – user132181 Sep 18 '14 at 14:46
1

Different genres of text have different grammatical conventions. It's not that "we take some liberty to play around the words without bothering much about grammar especially articles" when it comes to writing presentations or headlines, it's that these genres have their own grammatical conventions, and the norm is to ellipt function words such as articles, auxiliary verbs and prepositions.

Not using ellipsis would be strange in the circumstances because itwould break genre conventions. "Manchester man jailed after chip shop murder" is a perfectly well-written headline. "A man from Manchester has been jailed following a murder in a chip shop" is an appallingly written headline

  • Welcome to ELL.SE! If you had any Qs about the policies of our community, you can visit the help center or take a tour of the website. – M.A.R. Jan 31 '15 at 13:35

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.