no other copy existed to contradict 'it' [it =?]

Discussion in 'English Only' started by aiyu, Feb 24, 2013.

  1. aiyu

    aiyu Senior Member

    Hi! again this is from 1984 (George Orwell).

    A number of The Times which might, because of changes in political alignment, or mistaken prophecies uttered by Big Brother, have been rewritten a dozen times still stood on the files bearing its original date, and no other copy existed to contradict it. Books, also, were recalled and rewritten again and again, and were invariably reissued without any admission that any alteration had been made.

    I'm wondering what does it here indicate? Does it imply its original date or The Times? If it should be The Times, shouldn't it be replaced by them (because 'A number of The Times' is plural)?

    Thanks in advance!
  2. Beryl from Northallerton Senior Member

    British English
    It refers to 'a number of (editions of) The Times'. Should it be 'them' rather than 'it'? Probably ... but I'm loath to criticize Orwell, and so I look forward to someone telling me why I'm wrong about this. So long as you've understood the gist of the sentence, maybe we could, err, just politely move along.
  3. lucas-sp Senior Member

    English - Californian
    Shh... quietly, quietly...

    Actually, "a number of The Times" means "one specific issue of The Times" (or, in context, "any given issue of The Times"). Here's the OED on "number":
    This is a collocation that, today, would only be familiar to people who work in publishing.
  4. aiyu

    aiyu Senior Member

    Thanks a lot Beryl from Northallerton and lucas-sp!

Share This Page