alternately

  • pops91710

    Senior Member
    English, AE
    It's either a genetic disorder or an artifact. Since they don't know for sure, then the truth alternates between the two possibilities because a genetic disorder cannot be an artifact. Bear in mind this is a guess since there is no preceding or following context. Trying to explain a sample dictionary sentence can be daunting if not impossible at times.
     
    The sentence assumes a fellow has some irregularity with his feet and that one explanation was been proposed: Let's say, that he had vitamin D deficiency and rickets. Then 'alternately' (or as I would say, 'alternatively') there is another explanation, that the problem is due to his genetics (which may have caused some other deformities).
     

    wandle

    Senior Member
    English - British
    To say that 'feet' could be an 'artefact of genetic deformity' is a horrible misuse of language.
     

    wandle

    Senior Member
    English - British
    The metonymy of 'feet' for 'the condition of the feet' would not be objectionable in conversation.

    It is different in writing. The entire wording is maladroit from first to last. In the present case, clearly a good deal depends on context.
    Given the apparent context, I would prefer a simpler and clearer statement such as:

    'Alternatively, the cause may be his genetic deformity'
     

    Thomas Tompion

    Senior Member
    English - England
    I think some people are getting their knickers in a twist about a slight misuse of language from a casual remark in a discussion in a blog.

    The blog is intriguing and about the body of a dead man found on Somerton Beach, Adelaide in 1948; his possessions contained objects which led people to wonder if he was a spy of some kind.

    Why the language site should have chosen to illustrate the use of alternately (by turns) by choosing this misuse of the word remains a mystery. The writer clearly meant alternatively (considering another possibility). He may have been misled by a use of the word alternate slightly earlier in the blog.

    The writer probably didn't mean more than that his strange feet may have been another sign of genetic deformity (like his ears and teeth).
     

    ilovejapan

    Senior Member
    Japanese
    Hi, all

    Thank you for correcting the link and explaining the sentence I have posted.

    I think I understand the meaning of the sentense.

    Alternately is used when there are only two choices and the writer intends that his condition of the feet might have not derived directly from his genetic deformity. It might be from artifact of his genetic deformity.

    If my understanding is not correct, please let me know.

    Thank you for your help ;-)

    ilovejapan
     

    JulianStuart

    Senior Member
    English (UK then US)
    I think some people are getting their knickers in a twist about a slight misuse of language from a casual remark in a discussion in a blog.

    The blog is intriguing and about the body of a dead man found on Somerton Beach, Adelaide in 1948; his possessions contained objects which led people to wonder if he was a spy of some kind.

    Why the language site should have chosen to illustrate the use of alternately (by turns) by choosing this misuse of the word remains a mystery. The writer clearly meant alternatively (considering another possibility). He may have been misled by a use of the word alternate slightly earlier in the blog.

    The writer probably didn't mean more than that his strange feet may have been another sign of genetic deformity (like his ears and teeth).
    In American English, the word "alternately" is used to mean what in British English would be described as "alternatively"
    For example, this from Random House
    alternate
    ...
    11. constituting an alternative: The alternate route is more scenic.
     

    pops91710

    Senior Member
    English, AE
    I think some people are getting their knickers in a twist about a slight misuse of language from a casual remark in a discussion in a blog.

    The blog is intriguing and about the body of a dead man found on Somerton Beach, Adelaide in 1948; his possessions contained objects which led people to wonder if he was a spy of some kind.

    Why the language site should have chosen to illustrate the use of alternately (by turns) by choosing this misuse of the word remains a mystery. The writer clearly meant alternatively (considering another possibility). He may have been misled by a use of the word alternate slightly earlier in the blog.

    The writer probably didn't mean more than that his strange feet may have been another sign of genetic deformity (like his ears and teeth).
    Well, if that doesn't beat all. The OP said it was from a dictionary, and there was a dictionary link later added that had that sentence in it.
     

    JulianStuart

    Senior Member
    English (UK then US)
    The post in #3 has a link to Reference.com where the original sentence can be found (whether they cited the blog or not cannot be ascertained:D). It is also the site where the AmE meaning (from Random House's dictionary) I provided can be found. The link in post #3 has many examples of the word "alternately" being used in its American usage (BrE=alternatively), as well as being used in the way it would be used in BrE .
     

    Wordsmyth

    Senior Member
    Native language: English (BrE)
    Hmmm, so there's potential for confusion, then. Imagine someone explaining skid recovery techniques. He says "You can alternatively apply opposite lock and accelerate": I take that to mean that it's an alternative technique to one that he's already described.

    If he says "You can alternately apply opposite lock and accelerate", the outcome (for a BrE listener) could be catastrophic: turn the wheel, then accelerate, then turn the wheel, then accelerate, etc. :D

    I suppose an AmE listener would have to ask, "Which 'alternately' do you mean?"

    Ws:)
     

    JulianStuart

    Senior Member
    English (UK then US)
    Not all American speakers use the word "alternately" in the sense of "alternatively", but the OP and examples in #3 show that it is quite common. Most of the time, the context actually does make the meaning apparent, but sometimes not:D
     
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