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Relative pronoum and ambiguity

Discussion in 'Spanish-English Grammar / Gramática Español-Inglés' started by karbe, Jan 20, 2013.

  1. karbe Junior Member

    Spanish Spain
    Hello. I wonder if the following sentence is right, particularly the repeated antecedent "experiences" after he relative pronoun "which", that is intended to avoid ambiguity. In Spanish there is no problem, since possible misunderstanding is avoided by gender.

    "Pilot and time-limited experiences with small groups or relating to certain topics, which experiences [or just which?] have indeed proved capable of speeding up significantly students' transition from one level to the next"

    "Experiencias piloto con grupos reducidos y limitadas en el tiempo o en relación a determinados grupos de contenidos, las cuales sí han mostrado ser capaces de acelerar de manera significativa el tránsito, por parte de los estudiantes, de un nivel al siguiente"

    Thanks.
     
  2. chamyto

    chamyto Senior Member

    Burgos, Spain
    Spanish
    Hola, no hay por qué "duplicar" experiences. Es innecesario.
     
  3. karbe Junior Member

    Spanish Spain
    Thanks. But what about ambiguity?

    "Pilot and time-limited experiences with small groups or relating to certain topics, which have indeed proved capable of speeding up significantly students' transition from one level to the next"

    Are not there three possibilities depending on what we consider as the antecedent?

    a) Experiences have proved capable of...
    b) Small groups have proved capable of...
    c) Certain topics have proved capable of...
     
  4. chamyto

    chamyto Senior Member

    Burgos, Spain
    Spanish
    Yes, you're right. Maybe it depends (or if I'm wrong it'd better a native's opinion) on what you write before the comma.
     
  5. Forero Senior Member

    Houston, Texas, USA
    USA English
    This sentence fragment is heavy sounding with experience repeated, so I don't think it makes for a good sentence. Could you please provide the rest of the sentence so we can be sure.

    Without experiences being repeated, there is some ambiguity, but the comma does help.
     
  6. RicardoElAbogado Senior Member

    SF Bay Area, California
    American English
    In legal writing you will see the "which experience" construction used to avoid ambiguity.

    In the sample given, however, I don't think that either is required in English. You can separate the subject from the verb with a lot of words, but you still need a verb. In this case "have proved" is the verb. If you insert "which," there is no verb for the phrase "pilot and time-limited experiences ..."
     
  7. karbe Junior Member

    Spanish Spain
    Thank you. Although I can't understand your post completely, Ricardo, I will use commas to avoid ambiguity:

    "Pilot and time-limited experiences, with small groups or relating to certain topics, which have indeed proved capable of speeding up significantly students' transition from one level to the next"
     
  8. Wandering JJ

    Wandering JJ Senior Member

    England
    British English
    You could avoid ambiguity by chaging the clause order:

    'With the use of small groups or relating to certain topics, pilot and time-limited experiences, which have indeed proved capable of speeding up significantly students' transition from one level to the next...'
     
  9. Forero Senior Member

    Houston, Texas, USA
    USA English
    Add and before which to eliminate the ambiguity about what is being modified.

    Note that this seems to make the with phrase non-restrictive, but that may not be important in this case.
     
  10. RicardoElAbogado Senior Member

    SF Bay Area, California
    American English
    Let me attempt to explain better. The sentence should read as I have marked it. Here is why.

    "Pilot and time-limited experiences" is the subject.
    "have ... proved" is the verb.

    "with small groups or relating to certain topics" merely modifies the subject.

    There is no need for "which" or for "which, experiences."

    By putting either of those in there, you confuse the reader.
     
  11. RicardoElAbogado Senior Member

    SF Bay Area, California
    American English
    I don't think the commas solve the problem. As I noted, the problem is that you need to connect the subject directly with the verb. By inserting "which" you change the verb for the subject into the verb for the relative clause. As a result, there is no verb for the subject!
     
  12. karbe Junior Member

    Spanish Spain
    Thank you very much for all your suggestions. As a matter of fact, I should have written the whole context from the beginning:

    "Sería de particular interés abordar una implementación más sustancial del modelo en su conjuto, incluida su vertiente instruccional, a una escala mayor: esto es, más allá de experiencias piloto con grupos reducidos y limitadas en el tiempo o en relación a determinados grupos de contenidos, las cuales han mostrado ser capaces de acelerar de manera significativa el tránsito, por parte de los estudiantes, de un nivel al siguiente."

    So, the part in question (in bold) is not, strictly speaking, an entire sentence with its subject and its verb, but it's itself a complement (a "syntagma") of another main clause. That is the reason, why a relative clause, in my opinion, is needed. I like your solution, Forero:

    "It would be of particular interest to address more substantial implementation of the model as a whole, including also its instructional part, on a larger scale: i.e. beyond pilot and time-limited experiences with small groups or relating to certain topics and which have indeed proved capable of speeding up significantly students' transition from one level to the next."

    Thank you!
     

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