most devastating of

LQZ

Senior Member
Mandarin
And, most devastating of all, old-fashioned prevention has flopped. Too few people, particularly in Africa, are using the “ABC” approach pioneered here in Uganda: abstain, be faithful, use condoms. ---taken from the NYT

Dear all,

This is my first time I've met the formula (a superlative adjective + of + noun), and I fail to catch up with its meaning. Could you help me? Thanks.

LQZ
 
  • LQZ

    Senior Member
    Mandarin
    Thank you, patates frites. :)

    Yes, I am trying.
    1 I still can't understand what "worst of all" means.
    2 Could you nicely give me more examples as to this kind of expressions?
    3 When I meet others next time, how could I infer its meaning?

    Looking forward to your help.


    LQZ
     

    Packard

    Senior Member
    USA, English
    "Worst of all" equals "Worst of all possible outcomes".

    "Most devastating of all" equals "most devastating of all possible outcomes".
     

    patates_frites

    Senior Member
    Japanese, English - US
    Say there are three men.
    A is 1m80
    B is 1m75
    C is 1m60

    A is the tallest of all, OR the tallest man of the three.
    C is the shortest of all, OR the shortest man of the three.
     

    sound shift

    Senior Member
    English - England
    When I read "most devastating of all", I ask myself "most devastating of all the what?" The answer is that I don't know, because this refers to something that appears earlier in the text. Clearly, the non-use of "ABC" is the last in a list of regrettable factors.
     

    LQZ

    Senior Member
    Mandarin
    Aha, I've got it. Thanks patates frites and Packard. I misread the original sentence. Thanks again.
     

    LQZ

    Senior Member
    Mandarin
    When I read "most devastating of all", I ask myself "most devastating of all the what?" The answer is that I don't know, because this refers to something that appears earlier in the text. Clearly, the non-use of "ABC" is the last in a list of regrettable factors.
    sound shift, I reread the preceding paragraph, and now understand 'most devastating of all, old-fashioned prevention has flopped' as "most devastating of all ways is old fashioned prevention has flopped". Am I right?
     

    patates_frites

    Senior Member
    Japanese, English - US
    LQZ,

    "Most devastating of all / Worst of all" may often be a way to emphasize something, and not necessarily the result of an objective comparison.

    Here, from a quick read I gather that by "all" they mean, "all the factors that make fighting AIDS in Uganda difficult".

    The article identifies "the flop/flopping of old-fashioned prevention" as the worst problem/difficulty. But others could perhaps identify another factor. It's quite subjective here.
     

    xqby

    Senior Member
    English (U.S.)
    I don't think so, LQZ. The previous paragraph enumerates some of the obstacles in the fight against AIDS. Perhaps the simplest explanation is to look all the way back to where it says "Other forces made failure almost inevitable."
    Of these forces which make AIDS difficult to fight, the fact that old-fashioned prevention has flopped is the most devastating.
     

    LQZ

    Senior Member
    Mandarin
    Yes, patates frites, I reread some paragraphs again. As you said, there are some forces that make failure almost inevitable, but the flopping of old-fashioned prevention is the worst factor. Am I right?

    And I have one more question: Can I say "most devastating of all is that fashioned prevention has flopped" without changing the meaning?

    Thanks again. :)
     

    patates_frites

    Senior Member
    Japanese, English - US
    Yes, patates frites, I reread some paragraphs again. As you said, there are some forces that make failure almost inevitable, but the flopping of old-fashioned prevention is the worst factor. Am I right?

    And I have one more question: Can I say "most devastating of all is that fashioned prevention has flopped" without changing the meaning?

    Thanks again. :)
    You're right.

    You have to say "old-fashioned prevention". The rest is okay.
     

    LQZ

    Senior Member
    Mandarin
    I don't think so, LQZ. The previous paragraph enumerates some of the obstacles in the fight against AIDS. Perhaps the simplest explanation is to look all the way back to where it says "Other forces made failure almost inevitable."
    Of these forces which make AIDS difficult to fight, the fact that old-fashioned prevention has flopped is the most devastating.
    Thanks xqby. Is my latest understanding in post 11# correct?
     
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