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  1. #1
    Krik Guest

    Default Lord Butler's English... or sentence construction

    Hi,

    I'm puzzled by this sentence:

    "The evidence was not conclusive that Iraq actually purchased, as
    opposed to having sought, uranium and the British Government
    did not claim this."

    What does the phrase "as opposed to having sought" refer to? Is it simply emphasizing the distinction between the act of seeking and that of purchasing, or is it implying that the evidence of Iraq having sought uranium was conclusive? :)

    Thanks

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Lord Butler's English... or sentence construction

    Quote Originally Posted by Krik
    Hi,

    I'm puzzled by this sentence:

    "The evidence was not conclusive that Iraq actually purchased, as
    opposed to having sought, uranium and the British Government
    did not claim this."

    What does the phrase "as opposed to having sought" refer to? Is it simply emphasizing the distinction between the act of seeking and that of purchasing, or is it implying that the evidence of Iraq having sought uranium was conclusive? :)

    Thanks
    Good point!

    I believe it's more along the lines of differentiating seeking out with the intent to purchase uramium from the act of actually being caught red-handed with the goods. :wink:

  3. #3
    Tdol is offline Editor, UsingEnglish.com
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    The evidence suggested that they made enquiries not purchases, but the government said that they had made purchases.

  4. #4
    Krik Guest

    Default Re: Lord Butler's English... or sentence construction

    Thanks, folks

    I feel that he is emphasizing distinction between seeking and purchasing, but I'm not native English speaker, so I'm not sure...

    Would it be fair to say that in order for the "as opposed" clause to refer to "evidence" rather than "uranium" something else would need to be added? For example:

    "The evidence was not conclusive that Iraq actually purchased, as
    opposed to that of having sought uranium, and the British Government did not claim this."
    ...sounds weird... :)

    Would putting the coma after "uranium" rather than before it change the meaning or would it be incorrect punctuation?

    "The evidence was not conclusive that Iraq actually purchased, as opposed to having sought uranium, and the British Government did not claim this."
    Lord Butler, speaking about the language in which intelligence reports are written, says: "Subtleties such as 'the intelligence indicates' rather than 'the intelligence shows' may escape the untutored or busy reader."

    *sigh* English is starting to look complicated, and I can't believe I'm still thinking about that sentence...

  5. #5
    Tdol is offline Editor, UsingEnglish.com
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    It suggests that the evidence was conclusive that they had sought uranium.


    The indicates\shows distinction is very important here- if it indicates then it only suggests, but shows is more conclusive, suggestion that there is real proof. To change on to the other is to shift the balance4 from tentative to conclusive, the same way modal verbs were dropped.

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