raymondaliasapollyon wrote:If someone, say Peter, utters the following sentences, can we infer that he believes that the factory is going to close down?
a. "John talked about the fact that the factory is going to close down."
b. "John didn't talk about the fact that the factory is going to close down."
If John had used the word "fact" then it's likely that Peter also think it's a fact - else he could have clarified his scepticism by inserting "alleged" or by using a less categorical word than "fact". The most plausible interpretation is of 1 is therefore that John talked about the closure as a fact (and maybe even used the fourletter f-word), and that Peter definitely thinks it is, and of 2 that Peter thinks it's a fact, but since John didn't mention it we don't know aught about what he thinks about the topic. However in both variants it's almost certain that Peter believes that the closure is imminent.
And speaking about violent behaviours in public parks: for some reason I feel somewhat queasy about "Hitting Mary on the head, he (then) ran away" - with or without "then" (and it's not the action that is the problem). On the other hand I find "Putting down the newspaper, I walked over to the window" perfectly OK - maybe because I see the action with the newspaper as a natural first step of the walk to the window. The first example should have started with something like "after hitting .." or "Having hit...". And besides I'm hesitant to call any of the participles dangling - in each example the subject is the expected one.