Confusion between group/individuals

Discussion in 'English Only' started by tamebycomparison, Dec 9, 2010.

  1. tamebycomparison New Member

    English - US
    "The entire village of X was disarmed of all sharp objects, even forks, and driven from their homes."

    I'm using this sentence in a paper. My friend claims that it is confusing or wrong because, read literally, it says that the village was driven from somewhere, but of course since a village in an inanimate thing it can't be driven anywhere. It seems to me that the term "village" can refer both to the physical object and to the people who reside in it, so there is no confusion. Who is right?
     
  2. boreen Senior Member

    Boston area, MA
    English - US
    This is a tricky one. I think I agree with you though, because we do imply that we are talking about people as well when we use words like "village", "town", "city"... The phrase "it takes a village to raise a child" is talking about the people in the village. I suppose you could also change it to "All the villagers of X were ......"
     
  3. grubble

    grubble Senior Member

    South of England, UK
    British English
    The problem is not to do with whether the village is inanimate or not. It is that "was" is singular and "their" is plural. We have the following possibilities:

    1. The village was driven from their homes.

    2. The village were driven from their homes.

    3. The village was driven from its homes.

    4. The village were driven from its homes.


    From the above, the only one that works for me at all is 3. and that is debatable.

    So I agree with your friend but not for his reason. However, when I first read your sentence I didn't notice a problem because of the separation between the verb and the possesive. In other words the semantics overrode the syntax.

    If you insist on keeping the template then I suggest the following is the most correct:

    "The entire village of X was disarmed of all sharp objects, even forks, and driven from its homes." - but even that sounds strange.
     
    Last edited: Dec 9, 2010
  4. Parla Senior Member

    New York City
    English - US
    It is a little jarring to the reader. Why not avoid the possibility of confusion by writing: All the X villagers were disarmed . . .
     
  5. tamebycomparison New Member

    English - US
    I went with "The villagers of X were disarmed".

    Thanks for all your help guys, you rock!
     

Share This Page

Loading...