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Yitzik wrote:
> Ho! McGuffey calls many questions on my side too. Sometimes I fail to
> understand the precise meaning of short sentences. E.g. "The dog ran".
> Does
> it mean the same as "The dog was running to and fro"? Or is it "The dog
> has
> run away"? It's difficult to figure out without additional time
> markers....

> Or what does the phrase "See the man!" mean? I've got at least two
> variants
> of interpretation: "Behold, here is that man!" or "Have a look at that
> man!"
>
Your questions are justified.  I haven't yet delved into the McGuffey
material, so can't say if e.g. "The dog ran" occurs in some clarifying
context. By itself it seems to mean only "the dog performed an act of
running". Perhaps the problem has to do with "run" as a verb of motion,
implying dynamic/ongoing action, as opposed to "the dog sat/died" where we
don't have the same ambiguity.

Is the same sentence in Russian equally indistinct? In Spanish of course you
have the problem of "corría" vs. "currió".

"See the man!" to me is also quite odd; although many generations of
Americans have learned reading from a similar series of books (See Spot run!
et al.), I've never heard, nor used, "see" as an imperative
in such a construction. It would be "Look at...!"

Again, how does the literal translation in Russian sound? Spanish "¡Ve/vea
al hombre!" strikes my non-native ear as equally unlikely.