as can be inferred a fortiori from their posture

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dcx97

Banned
Hindi - India
Hello,

An anthropologist friend was doing research on a certain tribe and discovered that they did not consider incest immoral, i.e. they did not hold sibling marraige to be morally reprehensible. When asked if they considered cousin marriage sinful, he replied, "They do not consider it a sin, as can be inferred a fortiori from their posture on sibling marriage."

I told him the sentence was a bit stilted, especially the words "a fortiori" and "posture". He asked me to rewrite it using more natural, spontaneous English. What would you guys recommend?

Thanks.
 
  • Brannoc

    Member
    British English
    Hello,

    An anthropologist friend was doing research on a certain tribe and discovered that they did not consider incest immoral, i.e. they did not hold sibling marraige to be morally reprehensible. When asked if they considered cousin marriage sinful, he replied, "They do not consider it a sin, as can be inferred a fortiori from their posture on sibling marriage."

    I told him the sentence was a bit stilted, especially the words "a fortiori" and "posture". He asked me to rewrite it using more natural, spontaneous English. What would you guys recommend?

    Thanks.
    I would think "that they do not consider it a sin, as can be implied, understood, deduced or concluded from their earlier stated position on sibling marriage."
     

    RedwoodGrove

    Senior Member
    English, USA
    Well, stilted is in the ear of the listener. In a very upscale academic journal it might be acceptable, though I agree on the two words even there. Perhaps "implicitly" and "attitude(s)" would work. Of course, An inference is automatically something implicit so it kind of goes without saying. It also reminds me of advice I've heard about job interviews: don't talk down to your audience. (So I'm agreeing with you.)

    Brannoc's advice seems good.
     

    RedwoodGrove

    Senior Member
    English, USA
    Sorry, I was writing in a hurry. I mean using those two terms in an academic journal where the highest linguistic register is expected. The problem is that the register has changed significantly over decades and terms like "a fortiori" don't fit in any more. Probably today's academics wouldn't recognize it and wouldn't care, whereas academics of a century ago would have been embarrassed to admit they didn't.
     

    dcx97

    Banned
    Hindi - India
    Oh, so you probably meant "In a very upscale academic journal it might be acceptable, though I disagree on the two words even there.". Am I right?
     

    velisarius

    Senior Member
    British English (Sussex)
    A tribe is unlikely to adopt a posture on something. That sounds very planned and possibly intending to mislead or deceive. "Attitude" might be better.

    In an academic article I would see nothing unusual about a fortiori.
     

    dcx97

    Banned
    Hindi - India
    I may have overstated the case. Plenty of people are familiar with it, though sadly I can never retain those Latin terms. No matter how many times I see or read Rumpole of the Bailey I can never remember what a tautology is. :D
    I see. If you were writing, how would you have put "They do not consider it a sin, as can be inferred a fortiori from their posture on sibling marriage."?
     

    RedwoodGrove

    Senior Member
    English, USA
    That's difficult to say. We're not really supposed to give complete editing help here but I think I would say "as can be inferred implicitly from the earlier stated attitudes toward sibling marriage."
     

    dcx97

    Banned
    Hindi - India
    Thank you!
    But wouldn't you have included the words "all the more reason" as a substitute for "a fortiori"?
     
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