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Wu Ting
How would you interpret these phrases? 1 the others march 2 on permission I guess ‘the others march’ means the other ambulances were in good condition and could move. And ‘on permission’ means on leave, because the protagonist had just come back to the front from his leave. What do you think? Thanks. It’s from A Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemingway.the context: Ten cars were lined up side by side under the long shed. They were top-heavy, blunt-nosed ambulances, painted gray and built like moving-vans. The mechanics were working on one out in the yard. Three others were up in the mountains at dressing stations. "Do they ever shell that battery?" I asked one of the mechanics. "No, Signor Tenente. It is protected by the little hill." "How's everything?" "Not so bad. This machine is no good but the others march." He stopped working and smiled. "Were you on permission?" "Yes." He wiped his hands on his jumper and grinned. "You have a good time?" The others all grinned too. "Fine," I said. "What's the matter with this machine?" "It's no good. One thing after another." "What's the matter now?" "New rings."
Jan 10, 2016 8:52 AM
Answers · 9
Note that the speaker is foreign whose mother tongue is a latin language. In certain latin language "march" can mean "work" or "function well". Is it Hemingway's attempt at making him sound foreign? Likewise with "on permission".
January 10, 2016
Whether Hemingway wrote good English is still a controversial subject.
January 10, 2016
I think you've guessed right. These words and phrases are examples of military jargon current at that time and are not normally used in these ways in modern general English.
January 10, 2016
Wu Ting
Language Skills
Chinese (Mandarin), English, French
Learning Language