a cross, gold and precious stones/ apposition

armenian
#1
She saw first of all a few bracelets, then two pearl necklaces, then a Venetian cross, gold and precious stones of admirable workmanship.

Does this mean that the Venetian cross was made of gold and precious stones?
Does the 'admirable workmanship' apply only to the 'precious stones' or both to the 'gold' and to the 'precious stones'?
 

Loob

Senior Member
English UK
#2
Hi navi
Does this mean that the Venetian cross was made of gold and precious stones?
Not necessarily. It could be, for example, that she saw (1) a few bracelets (2) two pearl necklaces (3) a Venetian cross (4) gold and precious stones.
Does the context help?
Does the 'admirable workmanship' apply only to the 'precious stones' or both to the 'gold' and to the 'precious stones'?
It could be either. If forced to guess, though, I'd say it applied to both.
 

Yankee_NLPer

Senior Member
English-USA
#3
This sentence is certainly ambiguous.... very hypnotic. Admirable workmanship could apply to all those... to the 'precious stones' or both to the 'gold' and to the 'precious stones'

In hypnotic terminology this is known as sending the reader on a trans-derivational search... while the reader is confused a bit, the next sentence could hypnotically slide in under the reader's radar. Magicians call this sleight of hand, in linguistic terms this type of ambiguity is known as sleight of mouth.

However, it doesn't mean the author intended this passage to be ambiguous. It could just be sloppy writing.
 
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