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  1. #1
    Taka is offline Senior Member
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    Default question

    The sentence:

    There are said to be a billion billion insects on the earth at any moment, most of them with very short life expectancies by our standards.

    My book interprets the sentence as:

    They say there are a billion billion insects on the earth at any moment. They also say most of them have with very short life expectancies by our standards.

    Is this interpretation correct? I mean, is "most of them with very short life expectancies by our standards" also said by someone? IMO, it's just a scientific fact added to the main clause, not said by anyone.

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    Default Re: question

    Quote Originally Posted by Taka
    The sentence:

    There are said to be a billion billion insects on the earth at any moment, most of them with very short life expectancies by our standards.

    My book interpret the sentence as:

    They say there are a billion billion insects on the earth at any moment. They also say most of them have with very short life expectancies by our standards.

    Is this interpretation correct? I mean, is "most of them with very short life expectancies by our standards" also said by someone? IMO, it's just a scientific fact added to the main clause, not said by anyone.
    Try,

    There are said to be a billion billion insects on the earth at any moment, most of them are said to be existing with very short life expectancies by our standards. :D

  3. #3
    Taka is offline Senior Member
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    Default Re: question

    Isn't such ellipsis a bit far-fetched?

    The reason why I thought "most of them..." was not "said" is that if both were "said",gramatically "there are said to be" would have to link both "a billion billion insects" AND "most of them...", and it could be paraphrased like "There are said to be a billion billion insects on the earth at any moment, and still there are said to be most of them with very short life expectancies by our standards", but to me the latter sounds strange...

  4. #4
    Tdol is offline Editor, UsingEnglish.com
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    Default

    The number's a guess, but the life expectancy of a gnat is known. I agree with you, Taka, here. I don't see it as 'insects are said to have a short life expectancy'.

  5. #5
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    Default Re: question

    Well the sentence in question is in passive voice. The subject (i.e., entomologists, they) is implied. Would it help if we changed the sentence to active voice? :D

    Entomologists say (a) that there are a billion billion insects on the earth at any moment, (and they go on to say/add further/moreover) (b) most of them have very short life expectancies by our standards.

    Given the active structure above, I can see why your source (i.e., the book you quoted from) suggests that "say" goes with (a) and (b).

    By the way, the re-write you gave should be 'have', not 'with have', like this,

    They also say that most of them have very short life expectancies by our standards.

    All the best, :D

  6. #6
    Taka is offline Senior Member
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    Default Re: question

    I disagree, Cas. I'll buy tdol's idea.

    For example, if I say:

    There said to be many Canadians and Americans in Japan, where there is a serious shortage of manpower in English eduaction.

    then I think "where there is a serious shortage of manpower in English eduaction" is additional factual information; it is not "said".

    Likewise, "most of them..." in the original question should be addititonal information.

    You changed the sentence to active voice. That's fine. But changing it into:

    "Entomologists say (a) that there are a billion billion insects on the earth at any moment, (and they go on to say/add further/moreover) (b) most of them have very short life expectancies by our standards.

    seems to be a bit problematic. As "be said to do" is inserted in "There are...", it should be:

    "Entomologists say (a) that there are a billion billion insects on the earth at any moment, (and they go on to say/add further/moreover) (b) there are most of them with very short life expectancies by our standards. "

    And "there are most of them..." doesn't really work, does it?

    Anyway, if you arrange the original sentence too much, I think you'll miss the original intention of it.

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    Default Re: question

    The interpretation your source provides is not meant to be literal as in example 2.:

    1. There are insects in the world around us, most of them...
    2. There are insects in the world around us, they also say most of them...

    The interpretation "They also say most of them" works like this:

    Passive
    There are said to be insects in the world around us, and it is also said most of them....

    Please note, :D
    Subject-Verb agreement
    Plural: There are said to be insects in the world.
    Singular:It is said that most of them....

    There's nothing wrong with the way in which your source has interpreted the sentence. :wink:

    All the best, :D

  8. #8
    Taka is offline Senior Member
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    Default Re: question

    Quote Originally Posted by Casiopea
    Passive
    There are said to be insects in the world around us, and it is also said most of them....
    I cannot agree on that one, Cas.

    Theoretically, if you want to fill in the gap(s) of a sentence with ellipsis, you have to put the same word(s) used previously somewhere in the same sentence, or the sentences nearby. Only if there is no words to be found to fill in the gap(s), then, only then, the context is the key; only then you have to think what words are appropriate according to the context.

    Here, we have "There are said to be...". There is no reason to put "It is said that..." because structually it's different.

    Quote Originally Posted by Casiopea
    There's nothing wrong with the way in which your source has interpreted the sentence.
    Which one? This one?

    Quote Originally Posted by Casiopea
    "Entomologists say (a) that there are a billion billion insects on the earth at any moment, (and they go on to say/add further/moreover) (b) there are most of them with very short life expectancies by our standards. "
    I don't think it works, Cas. It's simply weird.

  9. #9
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    Default Re: question

    OK. :D

    What about this way?

    It is said by entomologists that there are insects in the world around us, and it is also said by entomologists that most of them....

    All the best, :D

    Typhoon weather at the moment in Japan. Scary!

  10. #10
    Taka is offline Senior Member
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    Default Re: question

    Quote Originally Posted by Casiopea
    OK. :D

    What about this way?

    It is said by entomologists that there are insects in the world around us, and it is also said by entomologists that most of them....
    ...most of them what? "have very short life expectancies by our standards"? You replace "with" with "have"?

    Man, it has no trace of its original form, like ugly plastic surgery on Michael something...

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