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Taka

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The sentence:

If there is one fact more than any other which stands out in the history of science, it is the remarkable extent to which great discoveries and youthful genius stand associated together.

I'm kind of puzzled by "more than any other" above. Which part of the sentence does "more" modify?

I think it's the same as:

If there is one fact which stands out in the history of science more than any other...

and "more" modifies "stands out", but I'm not sure on this one...
 

Casiopea

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Taka said:
The sentence:

If there is one fact more than any other which stands out in the history of science, it is the remarkable extent to which great discoveries and youthful genius stand associated together.

I'm kind of puzzled by "more than any other" above. Which part of the sentence does "more" modify?

I think it's the same as:

If there is one fact which stands out in the history of science more than any other...

and "more" modifies "stands out", but I'm not sure on this one...

If there is one fact more than any other fact....

The fact that stands out more than any other fact is the remarkable extent to which great discoveries and youthful genius stand associated together.
 

Casiopea

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Taka said:
So my interpretation is correct?

I think it's the same as:

If there is one fact which stands out in the history of science more than any other...

and "more" modifies "stands out", but I'm not sure on this one...

If there is one fact which stands out in the history of science more than any other fact which stands out in the history of science....
 

Taka

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So, I take it that my interpretation is correct.

Tell me. Is it a common collocation? I mean, "more than any other" should belong to the which-clause. Does

A+(which B [adverb/adverbial])=>A [adverb/adverbial]+(which B)

happen often in actual writing? Or is it rare?
 

Tdol

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I'm not sure of your ineterpretation. Here it's ellipsis and you need to reconstruct to get the word 'fact' in to see what is being modified. ;-)
 

Taka

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tdol said:
I'm not sure of your ineterpretation. Here it's ellipsis and you need to reconstruct to get the word 'fact' in to see what is being modified. ;-)

Ellipsis! :shock: I didn't realize that!

So what is the complete sentence? Is it like:

If there is one fact which stands out in the history of science more than any other fact which stands out in the history of science....

as Cas says? (I didn't realize either that Cas meant it was ellipsis...)
 

Taka

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tdol, isn't it also possible to take "more than any other" as parenthetical ?

I think your ellipsis theory works, but to me (and to my students) it seems a bit a roundabout approach.
 

Tdol

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To me, ellipsis seems the less roundabout way of rebuilding something. Maybe it's a cultural thing, but it seems perfectly logical to me, like Cas. The parenthetical idea works as well, but is more'round the houses'.


PS- I'm getting ready to move countries, so I might no be in every day over the next few days, but I will always get around to checking these threads.;-)
 

Taka

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tdol said:
To me, ellipsis seems the less roundabout way of rebuilding something. Maybe it's a cultural thing, but it seems perfectly logical to me, like Cas. The parenthetical idea works as well, but is more'round the houses'.

Yes, it's perfectly logical. I just think it's a bit roundabout when I teach the sentence to my students. They would go like "What? Should we supply that many words to understand the sentence?" So, the parenthetical idea seems to be a little simpler to teach (to Japanese students). All I would have to say is "The phrase is inserted."


tdol said:
PS- I'm getting ready to move countries, so I might no be in every day over the next few days, but I will always get around to checking these threads.;-)

Have a safe trip! :D
 

Francois

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I'm not sure about the ellipsis/parenthetical stuff, but I think that:
If there is one fact which stands out in the history of science more than any other fact which stands out in the history of science....
is different from
If there is one fact more than any other which stands out in the history of science
.
In the first case, you consider all the facts that stand out, then you pick the one which stands out most (if it exists).
In the second case, you take all the facts in the history of science before considering the one that stands out more. That's a subtle difference, but in 1) you necessarily imply that some facts stand out more than others, whereas in 2) you're not sure about that.
This doesn't change much in this context, but it could in another one.
What do you think?

FRC
 

Taka

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Francois said:
In the first case, you consider all the facts that stand out, then you pick the one which stands out most (if it exists).
In the second case, you take all the facts in the history of science before considering the one that stands out more.

How did you detect such difference?
 

Francois

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IMO, this sentence:
If there is one fact more than any other which stands out in the history of science
should read:
If there is one fact, more than any other fact (=all facts considered), which stands out in the history of science

Here:
If there is one fact which stands out in the history of science more than any other fact which stands out in the history of science....
Is it clear that the list of facts considered is restricted to those that stand out. IMO the ellipsis has been "over-qualified".

OK, this is not very convincing here, b/c we know that some facts stand out more than other, and from a purely logical/semantic perspective, some must stand out more than other, otherwise none would stand out!!
Let's take another context:

1) If there's one child more than any other that the teacher prefers
2) If there's one child that the teacher prefers more than any other child that she prefers

IMO, 1) sounds like "If she had to make a choice" while 2) is more like she already has several preferred children!

FRC
 

Taka

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Interesting question. Let me think about it for a while.

tdol, are you still there? What do you think about Francois's analysis?
 

Tdol

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Ithink it would be clearer with 'If there is one child', which in speech would be emphasised. However,I'm less sure of the distinction with the facts that stand out. ;-)
 

Taka

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After a little thought, I've come up with this conclusion, Francois: it all depends on the context.

If, say, your girlfriend says to you "You are the one more than any other that I love", do you think she loves you as well as others, and only the intensity of love to you is just a bit higher than to others? Or, does she love only you while she doesn't really care about anyone else on the planet? Who knows? Maybe she is humane, with full of love. Or she is a girl of hatred, who trusts no one but you in this world.

Likewise, IMO, "If there's one child more than any other that the teacher prefers" can be interpreted as:

(1) the teacher basically loves all of his/her students, but if there is one child who receives the teacher's attention a little bit more than others...

or

(2) the teacher favors some students over others, but if there is one child he/she particularly favors....

or

(3)the teacher is basically cool toward his/her students, but if he/she were supposed to pick up one student...

In conclusion, I think all you can tell from those kind of comparative expression is the fact that one thing really stands out, but you cannot tell the state of other things in detail; maybe other things stand out as well, or maybe not. It all depends on it's context.
 

Francois

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I agree.
Though, when you "expand" the ellipsis into "If there's one child that the teacher prefers more than any other child that she prefers", you restrict the set of possible interpretations (to meaning #2, basically).

FRC
 

Taka

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Initially, I thought "more than any other" was parenthetical: the original sentence should be equal to "If there is one fact which stands out in the history of science more than any other..."

I think the ellipsis theory works only for the science history because, you know, it's about the comparison of improtant facts in scientific history; as you said, they should be all, more or less, significant, not to be neglected, in the history, otherwise such comparison is meaningless.

But as for your example,

1) If there's one child more than any other that the teacher prefers

is, IMO, not necessarily equal to

2) If there's one child that the teacher prefers more than any other child that she prefers

because, without the context, you never know if the teacher plays favorites with a particular group of students before picking up the single best.

So I think (1) is the same as:

If there's one child that the teacher prefers to any other one

and my interpretation would be either:

the teacher basically loves all of his/her students, but if there is one child who receives the teacher's attention a little bit more than others...

or

the teacher is basically cool toward his/her students, but if he/she were supposed to pick up one student...
 
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