rarely does a smartphone not detect touches [structure]

< Previous | Next >

Bellinuxcom

New Member
Italian
A scientific journal recently accepted me an article. They carried out the proofreading changing many things. Among that things, they replaced this sentence:

In fact, rarely a modern touch capacitive smartphone does not detect touches, if users perform them.

With this sentence:

In fact, rarely does a modern touch capacitive smartphone not detect touches, if users perform them.

I replied commenting that the sentence is not a question, so I can not understand why they changed that form in that way, and asked to review the sentence again. Despite this, they insisted that "does a modern touch capacitive smartphone not detect touches" is right, even if it is not a question...

Therefore, I have no doubt that the form is right (they are professional proof-readers, and I am not an English native speaker), but I do not understand why.

Any explanation? It is just a curiosity...
Thanks
 
  • heypresto

    Senior Member
    English - England
    Welcome to the forum. :)

    A simple answer is that 'In fact, rarely does a modern touch capacitive smartphone not detect touches, if users perform them.' is not a question. It's a (correct) statement.


    Note we don't do proofreading here.
     

    velisarius

    Senior Member
    British English (Sussex)
    "Rarely" is considered a negative, and negative expressions when fronted trigger inversion.

    Never did they expect to see such a sight.
    Seldom have I eaten such a good meal.
    Rarely does a modern smartphone not detect....
     

    Thomas Tompion

    Senior Member
    English - England
    Simplify the sentence.

    Affirmative statement: The phone does not detect touches.

    Question: Does the phone not detect touches?

    Statement fronted by Rarely: Rarely does the phone not detect touches.

    As Velisarius says, we often invert in questions and when a negative starts a sentence.
     

    e2efour

    Senior Member
    UK English
    Welcome to the English forum, Bellinuxcom! :)

    The proofreading change was no improvement on your sentence. although the inversion (rarely does) is normal, as pointed out above.

    Your use of rarely was questionable since it is in the wrong place. You should say rarely detects.
    Their version is bad because, although rarely is in the right place, it is followed by not.

    The construction that should be used is not to have the double negative (rarely ... not). It is simply confusing for the reader.
    You can do this by writing it is rare for a phone to detect (or perhaps you mean it is rate for a phone not to detect -- I cannot make up my mind :)).
     
    Last edited:

    natkretep

    Moderato con anima (English Only)
    English (Singapore/UK), basic Chinese
    Yes, I think I prefer 'it is rare for a phone not to detect touch'.

    The word order given is something that survived from the Verb-Second (V2) rule in English. There used to be a rule in English for the second element to be the verb. If you move an adverbial or an object to the front, the verb will come next, before the subject. This is now optional except when a negative element is fronted (as mentioned by veli, post 4).
     

    e2efour

    Senior Member
    UK English
    But doesn't the OP sentences say that it is rare for a phone not to detect . . . ? Or, to avoid the two negatives, 'A modern phone will (almost) always detect . . . '.
    As I said, I am totally confused about what the intended meaning is. :)
    But I agree that the two negatives are best avoided with almost/nearly always.
     
    Last edited:
    < Previous | Next >
    Top