if laid-back

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littlemonyou

Senior Member
Korean
Written off not long ago as an implacable despot, Gaddafi is a complex and adaptive thinker as well as an efficient, if laid-back, autocrat.


Hi everyone. I am confused about the sentence because of "if laid-back" in this sentence.

Does it mean that if he, Gaddafi, is laid-back person, we can then call him as "autocrat"? (Given the fact that he is an autocrat.) Or, does it mean that if we take it relaxed way, then we can call him as autocrat?




 
  • DocPenfro

    Senior Member
    English - British
    The "if laid-back" is a parenthetic phrase, cordoned off by commas. This means that if it is omitted the sentence will still convey essentially the same meaning.
    "Gaddafi is an efficient autocrat."
    This is modified by the parenthesis, so:
    "Gaddafi is an efficient autocrat, although he was laid-back (as an autocrat)."
     

    morzh

    Banned
    USA
    Russian
    No, he was not "laid-back person", he was a "laid-back autocrat".
    That is, he was an autocrat, but somewhat less iron-fisted than, say, Pol Pot was. Or Stalin.
     

    littlemonyou

    Senior Member
    Korean
    One more question though,

    Can we say then "
    Gaddafi is a complex and adaptive thinker as well as an efficient, though laid-back, autocrat." without a change in nuance?
     

    DocPenfro

    Senior Member
    English - British
    Can we say then "Gaddafi is a complex and adaptive thinker as well as an efficient, though laid-back, autocrat." without a change in nuance?
    There's no real difference. In both cases, the parenthesis is being used to draw attention to the fact that Gaddafi was laid-back; this not being an attribute normally associated with autocrats.
     

    littlemonyou

    Senior Member
    Korean
    I am sorry to bother, but let me check one thing about what I meant by 'nuance' (I realized the word can be pretty vague) : I read in a book(Word Power Made Easy by Norman Lewis) that kids in America often confuse between the use of "I" and "me" as in, for instance, "Let's keep this between you and I(or me)". And thanks to misleading by parents, they have a tendency to believe that "between you and I" is the more elegant form of expression. (though using "I" in this context is not correct)

    So I was curious if by any chance this can be the same case(slightly different though), that if using "If" instead of "though" can make it sound more sophisticated or something?
     

    DocPenfro

    Senior Member
    English - British
    using "If" instead of "though" can make it sound more sophisticated
    Your conclusion is exactly correct, in my opinion. The "if" adds a slightly arch, whimsical quality to the phrase. However, that doesn't make it wrong in any sense.

    n.b. If in doubt about whether to use "John and I" or "John and me", the simple trick is to miss out the "John and" and then use whichever pronoun is correct.
    "The dog belongs to John and I"???
    miss out the "John and": it then becomes "The dog belongs to I", which is obviously incorrect.
     
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