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    #1

    An ambiguous sentence

    Following is the transcript of a sentence in a TOEFL book:
    Now, the reason Iím going to describe the theory itself is-well, not to make you think the theory itself isn't important-but the way that Koch applied the theory to tuberculosis changed our understanding of the disease forever.
    How can describing the theory itself possibly make people think it's not important so that the speaker had to add "not to make you think the theory itself isn't important"?
    Could anyone explain that to me, please?
    Thank you very much.
    Please notify me of any mistakes in my posts. It is much appreciated.

  1. MikeNewYork's Avatar
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    #2

    Re: An ambiguous sentence

    Quote Originally Posted by khanhhung2512 View Post
    Following is the transcript of a sentence in a TOEFL book:
    Now, the reason I’m going to describe the theory itself is-well, not to make you think the theory itself isn't important-but the way that Koch applied the theory to tuberculosis changed our understanding of the disease forever.
    How can describing the theory itself possibly make people think it's not important so that the speaker had to add "not to make you think the theory itself isn't important"?
    Could anyone explain that to me, please?
    Thank you very much.
    It doesn't say that the theory was unimportant, but it says that the application of the theory was more important. Koch's postulates have become a very important part of medicine -- even today.

    See here: Robert Koch - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

  2. Barb_D's Avatar
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    #3

    Re: An ambiguous sentence

    Also, I think you meant a "contradictory" sentence.

    An ambiguous sentence can be read two ways - two meanings are possible. (Or even more than two.)

    A recent example was "The students don't have math every Monday." -- Does it mean the never have math on Mondays, or they have math on some Mondays but not every Monday? (I believe the intention was the latter, but the former is possible.)

    Your concern (and mine too, since I know nothing about Koch, the theory, or the application) is that it was that is seemed to say one thing (the theory was important) and the opposite (the theory is not important) at the same time. That's contradictory.
    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.

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