Results 1 to 6 of 6
    • Member Info
      • Native Language:
      • Japanese
      • Home Country:
      • Japan
      • Current Location:
      • Japan

    • Join Date: Aug 2011
    • Posts: 26
    #1

    "the majority white population" -- meaning

    Hello teachers,

    I have a question about the phrase in the title.

    "the majority white population"

    Which of the following does this phrase indicate?

    (a) the population as a whole, the majority of which is white
    (b) the majority of the white population


    Also, in this phrase, should we consider the word "majority"
    an adjective? (I looked in the dictionary, but this word was
    only listed as a noun). Or is this a form of ellipsis? Or should
    we just consider it as a noun phrase?


    Thank you for your help!


    t.h.

  1. Academic Writing's Avatar
    • Member Info
      • Native Language:
      • English
      • Home Country:
      • United States
      • Current Location:
      • United States

    • Join Date: Aug 2012
    • Posts: 110
    #2

    Re: "the majority white population" -- meaning

    Quote Originally Posted by th.19 View Post
    Hello teachers,

    I have a question about the phrase in the title.

    "the majority white population"

    Which of the following does this phrase indicate?

    (a) the population as a whole, the majority of which is white
    (b) the majority of the white population
    The way that I usually see it used, sense A is probably the idea. Could you send the full sentence though? It would probably take an error in the original sentence to mean sense B.

    Quote Originally Posted by th.19 View Post

    Also, in this phrase, should we consider the word "majority"
    an adjective? (I looked in the dictionary, but this word was
    only listed as a noun). Or is this a form of ellipsis? Or should
    we just consider it as a noun phrase?


    Thank you for your help!


    t.h.
    My first thought is that "majority white" is being used together as a compound modifier. Merriam-Webster does actually list "majority" as an adjective, but I see that OED does not. However, it almost looks like "majority" is being used as an adverb, which makes me wonder if this is one of those usages that we see and hear but might not technically be standard. I'm not confident in this though, so please wait for others who are more knowledgeable on this one to weigh in.

    Also, depending on what type of document you are writing, you might have to capitalize "White." Chicago style does not, APA style does, and I'm not sure about Oxford style off the top of my head.
    SeriousScholar.com

    • Member Info
      • Native Language:
      • Japanese
      • Home Country:
      • Japan
      • Current Location:
      • Japan

    • Join Date: Aug 2011
    • Posts: 26
    #3

    Re: "the majority white population" -- meaning

    Thank you for your reply, sir.


    This is the original sentence. It's from a passage about
    South Africa and their national rugby team.

    "Nearly every player on the national team, the Springboks, was white.
    Inevitably, the team lacked support among the majority black population."

    Considering that 80% of the South African population is black,
    it does seem like (a) is what the phrase intended, but I wasn't really
    sure if (b) could be excluded as a mistake.

    ---

    I don't have a Merriam-Webster dictionary with me at the moment.
    I checked the OED and LDOCE and found that both of them only
    have it listed as a noun. But then, there are phrases like "majority
    vote" and "majority verdict" in these dictionaries, which seem like
    adjectives. Considering all of the above, your explanation that
    "majority" is an adverb seems logical to me(I just can't seem to find it
    anywhere in the dictionary!).

    t.h.

  2. Academic Writing's Avatar
    • Member Info
      • Native Language:
      • English
      • Home Country:
      • United States
      • Current Location:
      • United States

    • Join Date: Aug 2012
    • Posts: 110
    #4

    Re: "the majority white population" -- meaning

    Thanks for including the sentence th.19. Your interpretation of the meaning is correct and the usage is common from what I have seen.

    Nouns can be used as adjectives (attributive nouns). I should have mentioned that in my previous post because I think I gave the impression that a compound modifier needs to contain an adjective, which of course isn't the case. Perhaps majority is an attributive noun here and the hyphen is just omitted from "majority-black" by convention.

    In any case, your understanding of the meaning is correct. :)
    SeriousScholar.com

    • Member Info
      • Native Language:
      • British English
      • Home Country:
      • UK
      • Current Location:
      • Laos

    • Join Date: Nov 2002
    • Posts: 57,888
    #5

    Re: "the majority white population" -- meaning

    Which of the following does this phrase indicate?

    (a) the population as a whole, the majority of which is white
    (b) the majority of the white population
    To me, it means something slightly different: the white population, who are the majority.

    • Member Info
      • Native Language:
      • Japanese
      • Home Country:
      • Japan
      • Current Location:
      • Japan

    • Join Date: Aug 2011
    • Posts: 26
    #6

    Re: "the majority white population" -- meaning

    Thank you for the reponses, to the both of you.

    Mr./Ms. Tdol, thank you for your insight. I actually hadn't thought of that interpretation
    before, but it does seem perfectly plausible. And in the sentence above, it does seem
    to fit to better. Maybe the meaning could change slighty depending on the context of the
    sentence?

    th.19

Similar Threads

  1. Replies: 1
    Last Post: 14-Jun-2012, 17:45
  2. Replies: 2
    Last Post: 14-Sep-2010, 14:15
  3. what"s the meaning by "a three-vote majority"?
    By traceycjj in forum Ask a Teacher
    Replies: 5
    Last Post: 10-Sep-2009, 13:39
  4. usage of "majority"
    By Spetsnaz26 in forum Ask a Teacher
    Replies: 4
    Last Post: 30-May-2008, 15:15
  5. what's the meaning of "white elephant government projects"?
    By Unregistered in forum Ask a Teacher
    Replies: 1
    Last Post: 27-Mar-2005, 08:16

Bookmarks

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •