not at all doubtful that we may not have...

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dcx97

Banned
Hindi - India
Hello,

I just came across the following:

But we are not at all doubtful that we may not have the original text.

Here's more context:

The earliest copies of parts of the Hebrew Old Testament were discovered in 1947. <-----Excess quote removed by moderator (Florentia52)-----> The originals have all been lost or destroyed. But we are not at all doubtful that we may not have the original text. Copying by scribes was done with great care in those days and because the text was regarded as sacred, the copyists were extremely painstaking.

In what language was the Bible first written?

Shouldn't it have been "But we are not at all doubtful that we do not have the original text."? What is the purpose of "may" here?

Thanks.
 
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  • Bondstreet

    Senior Member
    English (UK)
    This is a very strange double negative sentence. I find it hard to believe that it was written by a native English speaker.

    >> What is the purpose of "may" here?


    "may" expresses uncertainty - "we may not have the original text"

    I would rewrite it as something like:

    "The originals have all been lost or destroyed. But there is no doubt about the text not being the original

    or better:

    "The originals have all been lost or destroyed. But we are sure it is the original text. There is no doubt about that, because copying by scribes was done with great care in those days. The text was regarded as sacred, and the copyists were therefore extremely painstaking.
    .
     

    dojibear

    Senior Member
    English - Northeast US
    "But we are not at all doubtful that we may not have the original text.":( (from original article)
    This is probably incorrect and definitely confusing. It might mean something different to AE and BE readers.

    "But there is no doubt about the text not being the original.":( (from post #2)
    This is ambiguous. There is no doubt, but is the text the original?
    In AE, this means the text is not the original. In BE it seems to mean the opposite.

    "But there is no doubt that the text is the original.":) (from me)
    In AE, the phrase "there is no doubt that" means "what follows is true". It is a fixed expression.

    "But we are sure it is the original text.":):) (from post #2)
    Best of all. Anyone can understand this.
     

    dcx97

    Banned
    Hindi - India
    dojibear's sentence "But there is no doubt that the text is the original." sounds great to me.

    But what about my suggestion?

    "But we are not at all doubtful that we do not have the original text."
     

    lingobingo

    Senior Member
    English - England
    It’s clear from the text that has been deleted from the OP that that “they are not the originals. They are copies.”

    I agree the English is weird. I also agree that “we are not at all doubtful” logically means we have no doubt that our copies are not the originals (so why the word “may” has been added is anyone’s guess!).
     

    dojibear

    Senior Member
    English - Northeast US
    This sentence, in context, is not about "copies" vs. "original documents". It is about the text: the actual words. It is saying that the text (though copied) is the same text as in the original document. That is clear from the surrounding paragraph, in the link.
     
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