a difficult sentence

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japanjapan

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Dear teachers,
Please look at the following sentence, it is the first sentence of one article entitled " communication competence".

A native speaker's language proficiency implies the ability to act as a speaker and listener in the diverse ways that the different categories we have outlined attempt to grasp.

First, I can assure you that the sentence above is exactly the same as it is in the text book.

I can not understand the red part. What does it modify? "ways" or "ability"??
and i can not figure out the structure of the red part. outlined and attempt, which one is the verb(predicate) of the red part?

In a word, I am puzzled completely. help me.
thanks.
 

MikeNewYork

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Nov 13, 2002
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Academic
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American English
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japanjapan said:
Dear teachers,
Please look at the following sentence, it is the first sentence of one article entitled " communication competence".

A native speaker's language proficiency implies the ability to act as a speaker and listener in the diverse ways that the different categories we have outlined attempt to grasp.

First, I can assure you that the sentence above is exactly the same as it is in the text book.

I can not understand the red part. What does it modify? "ways" or "ability"??
and i can not figure out the structure of the red part. outlined and attempt, which one is the verb(predicate) of the red part?

In a word, I am puzzled completely. help me.
thanks.

I am chuckling because the writer should have read the book's title. The sentence is unforgivably convoluted. The red part means: they have outlined different categories which attempt to "grasp" the diverse ways of speaking and listening. IMO, the word "grasp" makes little sense there. It sounds as if it should carry the "comprehend" meaning of grasp, but I am suspicious that they are using it to mean "elucidate", "demonstrate", etc. I have no idea how outlined categories can grasp diverse ways.

The red part consists of a relative clause inside a relative clause. The first clause: that the different categories attempt to grasp, modifies "ways", and its verb is "attempt". The second clause: (that) we have outlined, modifies "categories", and its verb is "have outlined".
 
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