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  1. #1
    bertietheblue is offline Senior Member
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    Default "second largest employer after agriculture"

    I'm correct in thinking this should read "the largest employer after agriculture', aren't I?

  2. #2
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    chester_100 is offline Member
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    Default Re: "second largest employer after agriculture"

    I suppose the sentence refers to the status of two employers compared to each other. If 'after' means 'subsequent to', then one proposition of the sentence can be: agriculture is the largest employer [in this country].
    However, the word 'employer' usually refers to firms, corporations, companies, private or public organizations, and a person or a group of persons. As far as I know, the word can't directly cover an industry. For example, 'agriculture as employer' sounds sort of odd to me?


    -The second-ranked employer after agricultural employers.

  3. #3
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    Barb_D is offline Moderator
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    Default Re: "second largest employer after agriculture"

    I think a comma makes a difference.

    The second ranked, after [by the way] agriculture -- the #2 employer
    The second ranked after agriculture -- Ag is #1, something else is #2, and then this is second after you take agriculture out of the picture.

    That said, I still think, with or without the comma, people will read this as "Ag is #1 and this is #2."
    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.

  4. #4
    bertietheblue is offline Senior Member
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    Default Re: "second largest employer after agriculture"

    Quote Originally Posted by chester_100 View Post
    I suppose the sentence refers to the status of two employers compared to each other. If 'after' means 'subsequent to', then one proposition of the sentence can be: agriculture is the largest employer [in this country].
    However, the word 'employer' usually refers to firms, corporations, companies, private or public organizations, and a person or a group of persons. As far as I know, the word can't directly cover an industry. For example, 'agriculture as employer' sounds sort of odd to me?


    -The second-ranked employer after agricultural employers.
    Thanks. We do talk about economic sectors/industries being employers: 'the automobile industry is a major employer in the depressed heartlands of the North-East', though I couldn't say whether or not this is colloquial usage.
    Last edited by bertietheblue; 12-Jul-2010 at 18:04.

  5. #5
    bertietheblue is offline Senior Member
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    Default Re: "second largest employer after agriculture"

    Quote Originally Posted by Barb_D View Post
    I still think, with or without the comma, people will read this as "Ag is #1 and this is #2."
    So:

    'Maradona is the best footballer ever after Pele' and 'Maradona is the second-best footballer ever after Pele' would be understood to have the same meaning?

  6. #6
    IHIVG's Avatar
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    Default Re: "second largest employer after agriculture"

    Quote Originally Posted by bertietheblue View Post
    So:

    'Maradona is the best footballer ever after Pele' and 'Maradona is the second-best footballer ever after Pele' would be understood to have the same meaning?
    Yes, at close inspection it looks like there should be a difference. But what could be other possible interpretations of the above? Strangely enough, I can't imagine people inferring anything other than that Pele is 1st and Marodona is 2nd.
    Perhaps parentheses (or a comma, as has been pointed out) would make the 2nd sentence technically clearer: 'Maradona is the second-best footballer ever (after Pele).'
    Also, both of these constructions are widely used in the sports world and, as far as I've noticed, no one gets confused:
    'For the last couple of years, Roger's been the second-best clay court player after Nadal .' and 'Roger is the best clay court player after Nadal' are used to mean the same thing, at least on tennis forums.

    Now, with or without parentheses, if anyone inferred that the penultimate sentence means that Roger is the 3d among clay court players, I would be highly impressed!

  7. #7
    SoothingDave is offline VIP Member
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    Default Re: "second largest employer after agriculture"

    Not a teacher.

    It seems to me that the original wording under close scrutiny does seem to imply that the "second best after" is in third place.

    Luckily for most of us, language is not usually under such scrutiny. The sentence construction is the result of the natural process whereby one writes "they are the second best" and then answers automatically the natural question of the reader "who is first then?"

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