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  1. #1
    giuly90 is offline Junior Member
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    Default a tale to a plot

    Dear teachers,

    I am not sure about the grammatical structure of this excerpt:

    "The Snake River Plain stretches from Oregon across northern Nevada and southern Idaho into Wyoming. Its geologic history is a complicated tale of normal fractures in the Earth's crust on its western edge to a more complex plot of basalt lava flows perhaps stemming from a hot plume of magma now beneath Yellowstone National Park".

    I have not well understood the second sentence: does it mean that "its geologic history is a tale of [...] involving a plot of [...]"?

    Thank you in advance,

    G.

  2. #2
    Barb_D's Avatar
    Barb_D is online now Moderator
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    Default Re: a tale to a plot

    It's using a metaphor of a story, as though an author had selected the things that happened geologically to shape the plain instead of simply the forces of nature.

    While it's easy to describe some of the geological history, it's hard to describe other aspects.
    I'm not a teacher, but I write for a living. Please don't ask me about 2nd conditionals, but I'm a safe bet for what reads well in (American) English.

  3. #3
    giuly90 is offline Junior Member
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    Default Re: a tale to a plot

    Quote Originally Posted by Barb_D View Post
    It's using a metaphor of a story, as though an author had selected the things that happened geologically to shape the plain instead of simply the forces of nature.

    While it's easy to describe some of the geological history, it's hard to describe other aspects.
    Thank you, but I wonder about the ghrammatical structure: does "a tale _to_ a plot" mean "a tale based on a plot"? This is an unknown use of "to" to me.

    Thank you,

    Giuly

  4. #4
    Barb_D's Avatar
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    Default Re: a tale to a plot

    Ah, I see. The tale is about a range of things, from this to that.

    A story of the relatively straightforward [whatever it is] that moves to the more complicated story of [whatever that is].
    I'm not a teacher, but I write for a living. Please don't ask me about 2nd conditionals, but I'm a safe bet for what reads well in (American) English.

  5. #5
    Barb_D's Avatar
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    Default Re: a tale to a plot

    You think? I thought the author was extending the "tale" metaphor. It's possible to be either one, I guess.
    I'm not a teacher, but I write for a living. Please don't ask me about 2nd conditionals, but I'm a safe bet for what reads well in (American) English.

  6. #6
    giuly90 is offline Junior Member
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    Default Re: a tale to a plot

    Quote Originally Posted by Gillnetter View Post
    "The Snake River Plain stretches from Oregon across northern Nevada and southern Idaho into Wyoming. Its geologic history is a complicated tale of normal fractures in the Earth's crust on its western edge to a more complex plot of basalt lava flows perhaps stemming from a hot plume of magma now beneath Yellowstone National Park".

    I believe that the "plot" in question speaks to an area of land - not the construction of a story. A plot of land can be any size - the word merely refers to a single piece of land.
    But isn't "a plot" used mor in the context of housing/construction of buildings, rather than in geology? And again, what is the grammatical function of "_to_ a plot"?

    Thank you,

    Giuly

  7. #7
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    Default Re: a tale to a plot

    It's not a good sentence. The transition in the 'tale' metaphor hasn't been spelt out. I think Barb is right though.

    Its geologic history is a complicated tale, ranging from a simple story/chapter of normal fractures in the Earth's crust on its western edge to a more complex plot of basalt lava flows perhaps stemming from a hot plume of magma now beneath Yellowstone National Park".



  8. #8
    tedtmc is offline Key Member
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    Default Re: a tale to a plot

    I think there is a deliberate play on the word plot (a pun).
    Plot has the dual meanings of an 'outline of a story' or a 'marked piece of land/ground'. The geological history(tale) brings you to a 'plot of basalt lava' which originates from the Yellowstone National Park.

    not a teacher

  9. #9
    giuly90 is offline Junior Member
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    Default Re: a tale to a plot

    Quote Originally Posted by tedtmc View Post
    I think there is a deliberate play on the word plot (a pun).
    Plot has the dual meanings of an 'outline of a story' or a 'marked piece of land/ground'. The geological history(tale) brings you to a 'plot of basalt lava' which originates from the Yellowstone National Park.

    not a teacher
    Actually, I don't think that a "plot of lava flows" makes much sense.

  10. #10
    tedtmc is offline Key Member
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    Default Re: a tale to a plot

    Quote Originally Posted by giuly90 View Post
    Actually, I don't think that a "plot of lava flows" makes much sense.
    'Plot' means a section of the solidified basalt which was formed from the flow of molten rock through underground conduits from volcanic activities which originated from the Yellowstone National Park. This is normally how volcanic rocks are formed.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Basalt

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