Philip Newton (pne) wrote,
Philip Newton


I just realised something (while considering a translation of "When the obvious merits become apparent" into German, since "obvious" and "apparent" both translate, for me, most readily into the same word, "offensichtlich", literally "open-sight-ly"): there are two main meanings of "apparent", and which one is intended often depends on the surrounding. (Not just the context of the conversation, but more specifically, using it in certain positions will tend to call for one meaning or the other.)

Specifically, there's "only appears that way, but if you examine it more closely, you'll see that it likely isn't so"; this meaning is common in attributive use ("the apparent benefits" typically means "those things that look like benefits but aren't" rather than "those benefits that can easily be seen").

Then there's "easily seen, obvious"; this is common after "become": "when the benefits become apparent".

With "to be", it seems to depend on the presence or absence of "only"; compare "The benefits are apparent" (= obvious) and "The benefits are only apparent" (= seeming).

With "become", I suppose the "seeming" interpretation is possible in theory, but you'd need appropriate context; I can't think of a reasonable sentence right now.

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