after the mastodon there would be the bison

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SuprunP

Senior Member
Ukrainian & Russian
Being an omnivore occupying a cognitive niche in nature is both a boon and a challenge, a source of tremendous power as well as anxiety. Omnivory is what allowed humans to adapt to a great many environments all over the planet, and to survive in them even after our favored foods were driven to extinction, whether by accident or because of our own too-great success in overcoming other species' defences. [(1)] After the mastodon there would be the bison and then the cow; [(2)] after the sturgeon, the salmon, and then, perhaps, some novel mycoprotein like "quorn."
(The Omnivore's Dilemma; M. Pollan)

Would you be so kind as to tell me whether I have understood it correctly that even though (1) and (2) look similar and are parts of the same sentence the author is stating a fact in (1) whereas in (2) he is merely hypothesising?

Thanks.
 
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  • se16teddy

    Senior Member
    English - England
    Your guess is as good as ours, Suprun. One of the effects of the hideous "future in the past" sense of would is to leave the reader completely confused about whether we are talking about a world envisaged in the past, a world envisaged for the future, facts in the past (but later than some other past), etc.
     

    Myridon

    Senior Member
    English - US
    The examples seem poorly chosen. Only the mastodon is actually extinct. I could have a bison burger for lunch today for only a few dollars more than a beef burger. We haven't entirely stopped eating all species of sturgeon. Since he includes the cow, he's not ruling out domesticated species. Wild salmon could be come extinct, but farmed salmon probably won't.
     

    siares

    Senior Member
    Slovak
    I think author implies that humans always find/utilize/cultivate new previously (in evolution) unused sources of food, cow is "newer" than bison; I don't know whether a salmon is newer than sturgeon..

    E: sideways grammar question
     
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