could people hope to change the problems

(ABC featured a litany of stories about Appalachian children confronting poverty and deprivation. The news report was widely met with utter scorn)
"You should be ashamed of yourself for reinforcing old, false stereotypes and not giving a more accurate picture of Appalachia. This is an opinion shared among many in the actual rural towns of the mountains that I have met."
I knew this because my cousin took to Facebook to silence the critics - noting that only by admitting the region's problems could people hope to change them.
Hello everyone,
I have problems with the last sentence. I would have expected ... - noting that only by admitting the region's problems could give people hope to change them or ...could let people hope to change them or the like. It puzzles me. Please help. Thanks in advance.
 
  • grassy

    Senior Member
    Polish
    It's an inverted version of: people could hope to change the region's problems only by admitting they existed in the first place.
     

    Florentia52

    Modwoman in the attic
    English - United States
    It’s simply an inversion, as grassy says. It’s a stylistic choice that makes for what most would regard as a better sentence. If you find grassy’s version less puzzling, then by all means read it that way to help you get the meaning.
     
    It’s a stylistic choice that makes for what most would regard as a better sentence.
    Why should that stylistic choice make for a better sentence? It isn't understandable. It's an abnormal word order in my opinion and the author might have his reasons for it. Why does this word order make for a better sentence although it is an abnormal word order? And: ...what most would regard as a better sentence:confused: - it puzzles me!
     
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    grassy

    Senior Member
    Polish
    Starting the sentence with the adverb only triggers the inversion. The inversion doesn't make for a better sentence; it's used for emphatic effect.
     
    I'm happy that we have solved this problem after all. I wonder that no native speaker was able to make for the key word - emphasis - in this thread. First, grassy, a non-native speaker, gave the crucial clue actually!
     
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    kentix

    Senior Member
    English - U.S.
    It's so obvious to us we have to consciously think about it. It's not just emphatic, it changes where the emphasis goes.

    "noting that only by admitting the region's problems could people hope to change them."

    He's emphasizing the words in bold and wants then closer to the beginning.
     

    lentulax

    Senior Member
    UK English
    I would have expected ... - noting that only by admitting the region's problems could give people hope to change them or ...could let people hope to change them or the like.
    This wouldn't make sense : in your suggestion, the verb 'could' has no subject. If you changed 'by admitting' to 'admitting' (a verbal noun) , 'admitting' would be the subject of 'could' , and your sentence would make sense - though it probably wouldn't be the way a native speaker would choose to express the idea.

    The order is logical : one admits the problems, then one is able to solve them.

    There's nothing in the least abnormal about the structure of this sentence. 'Only by doing this can we hope to do do that' is an everyday structure - the inversion ('can we hope') is standard after 'only', not some kind of literary flourish.
     
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