so too had the rationale [so too?]

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EdithLiu

New Member
Chinese
When the Cold War ended, so too had the rationale for much foreign aid.

I do not understand this sentence.

Please help me. explain the grammar in the sentence and its meaning.

Thanks.
 
  • SwissPete

    Senior Member
    Français (CH), AE (California)
    I can't explain the grammar (although somebody will be right over to do so), but the sentence means that when the Cold War ended, the rationale for foreign aid ended also.

    By the way, where did you find this sentence? There is something not quite right about it.
     

    Florentia52

    Modwoman in the attic
    English - United States
    The "too" is somewhat redundant, for emphasis. The sentence would have the same meaning without it.

    Can you tell us where you found the sentence, EdithLiu?

    [Cross-posted with SwissPete]
     
    When the Cold War ended, so too had the rationale for much foreign aid.
    The main clause is, re ordered, the rationale for much foreign aid had {ended}.

    "so too" is a connecting phrase indicating that there is a parallelism: The introductory clause is the Cold War ended,

    So the overall structure can be indicated, thus:

    WHEN {the cold war ended} THEN {too} {the rationale for {much} foreign aid had {ended}}

    This resembles a sentence like, "When he arrived, so did I." I don't know how to explain the inversion, for the meaning is "When he arrived, I did {arrive} too."


    ===

    As to the meaning, it means that when the US was cold warring against the Russians, they gave lots of money to those they hoped would be allies, and to those sitting on the fence.

    The US did NOT want African countries getting close to Russia. So it gave them billions.

    Once the cold war was over, the 'rationale' or reason for pouring money into African countries disapppeared.
     
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    Wordsmyth

    Senior Member
    Native language: English (BrE)
    There's a tense change in your sentence, Edith, from the simple past (ended) in the first clause, to the past perfect (had [ended]) in the second clause.

    This implies that the foreign-aid rationale ended before the Cold War ended (though maybe only slightly before).

    If the two ended at the same time, the sentence would normally be "When the Cold War ended, so (too) did the rationale ..."

    Ws:)
     

    Parla

    Member Emeritus
    English - US
    I think the tense change singled out by Wordsmyth may be what bothered SwissPete. It bothered me. "When" and "too" suggest simultaneity to me, and I think this sample sentence presented to the students in Edith's class should have used did, not "had".
     

    Wordsmyth

    Senior Member
    Native language: English (BrE)
    I agree, Parla. If someone wanted to say that the one event had already happened at the moment when the other occurred, the "so too" construction probably wouldn't be used. More likely would be, for instance: "When the Cold War ended, the rationale for foreign aid had already ended."

    Come to think of it, saying that a rationale "ended" seems a curious turn of phrase to me. I'd be more likely to say that it was no longer relevant, or no longer applied, or something similar.

    Ws:)
     
    Word, post #7
    [1]There's a tense change in your sentence, Edith, from the simple past (ended) in the first clause, to the past perfect (had [ended]) in the second clause.

    [2]This implies that the foreign-aid rationale ended before the Cold War ended (though maybe only slightly before).

    [3]If the two ended at the same time, the sentence would normally be "When the Cold War ended, so (too) did the rationale ..."

    With all due respect, I'd respond to your assertions (which I've numbered in brackets) as follows.

    [1] Yes. For a parallel consider, in a biography, "When Jones fell from his horse and broke his back, his career as a jockey had ended. He proceeded to become a sportscaster."
    [2] No, I don't agree, as the example shows. The career, let's say, went from Jan 1970 to Feb 1, 1980, 12 noon." The time of his fall is 12 noon. The past perfect is to talk about that period, and proceed, in the simple past: Let's say Mar 1, 1980 begins to take up a new career--prepare for it.
    [3] No, 'did' here and 'had' have the same meaning. The 'had' is used because, as I stated in post #5, the standard form of the second clause is "the rationale had ended."

    Parla said, post #8
    I think the tense change singled out by Wordsmyth may be what bothered SwissPete. It bothered me. "When" and "too" suggest simultaneity to me, and I think this sample sentence presented to the students in Edith's class should have used did, not "had".
    I think simultaneity IS what's intended. I don't think "had" flies in the face of that, as in my example, above. I believe this sentence you apparently suggest, would mean the same thing.

    Parla's proposal (I think): When the Cold War ended, so too did the rationale for much foreign aid.
    OP:
    When the Cold War ended, so too had the rationale for much foreign aid.
    No difference, in my opinion.
     
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    Thomas Tompion

    Senior Member
    English - England
    I agree with Wordsmyth and Parla. The so-too-formula suggests a grammatical parallelism which is negated by the tense shift.

    To use the formula and not use the same tense is confusing, to say the least. In my view you need one of:

    When the Cold War had ended, so too had the rationale for much foreign aid.

    When the Cold War ended, so too did the rationale for much foreign aid.
     
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    The change-of-tense issue has bothered several posters, including Parla and Thomas T.

    The OP sentence, supplied by Edith Liu, was--
    When the Cold War ended, so too had the rationale for much foreign aid.
    Thomas in post #11 said in part,

    I agree with Wordsmyth and Parla. The so-too-formula suggests a grammatical parallelism which is negated by the tense shift.

    To use the formula and not use the same tense is confusing, to say the least. In my view you need one of:

    When the Cold War had ended, so too had the rationale for much foreign aid. [second example deleted]
    I agree that the shift *within a sentence* is a little unsettling, but the rationale given by some posters (Wordsmyth, post #7, that non simultaneity is suggested is not convincing.

    The problem is that we have a single sentence and the past perfect is often embedded in passages with the past, by way of indicating a period of time within which other events took place (stated in simple past).

    I've composed a short paragraph incorporating the simple past and past perfect in more or less the same fashion as the OP. I think it works. So the point is that the tense issue is more a result of clumsiness in combining in a single sentence--not to say the issue of trying to understand one sentence in isolation. The starting assumption is that the rationale for foreign aid is the topic of the paragraph and adverted to by every sentence, either directly or indirectly.

    Foreign aid was distributed lavishly from the 1950s through the 1980s. Millions were dumped, after 1948, first into Europe, then elsewhere around the globe. The coffers of left-leaning African states were lined to secure their continued willingness to be allies. Then, in 1991, Soviet Union ceased to exist; the cold war ended. The rationale of the past forty years, thus, too, had ended, and the US began to cut aid to third-world countries it perceived as unlikely to be allies or to become suppliers of natural resources.
     
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    Wordsmyth

    Senior Member
    Native language: English (BrE)
    Benny, if you look up the use of the simple past and the past perfect in any textbook or other English language guide, I'm sure you'll find that "did" and "had" don't have the same meaning, and that the purpose of the past perfect (otherwise known as the pluperfect) is to express an action further in the past than another past action. It's also explained at length in many other threads in WRF.

    Now I'll grant you that there are some people who don't always differentiate between the simple past and the past perfect in that way — and if you're one of them, then so be it. But that doesn't invalidate the standard use of the two tenses, which is, in my experience, the predominant usage, and seems to be recognised by everyone else here.

    Ws:)
     
    Wordsmyth said in part (full post, below).
    [...]the purpose of the past perfect (otherwise known as the pluperfect) is to express an action further in the past than another past action.[...]
    I respond. If you look at my proposed example (post #14), in green, the last lines follow this 'rule,' clearly.
    Then, in 1991, Soviet Union ceased to exist; the cold war ended. The rationale of the past forty years, thus, too, had ended, and the US began to cut aid to third-world countries it perceived as unlikely to be allies or to become suppliers of natural resources.
    Your admonishment about 'standard usage' is unnecesarry.

    'bennymix'

    ===========

    Wordsmyth [post #15 above]




    Benny, if you look up the use of the simple past and the past perfect in any textbook or other English language guide, I'm sure you'll find that "did" and "had" don't have the same meaning, and that the purpose of the past perfect (otherwise known as the pluperfect) is to express an action further in the past than another past action. It's also explained at length in many other threads in WRF.

    Now I'll grant you that there are some people who don't always differentiate between the simple past and the past perfect in that way — and if you're one of them, then so be it. But that doesn't invalidate the standard use of the two tenses, which is, in my experience, the predominant usage, and seems to be recognised by everyone else here.

    Ws:)
     

    velisarius

    Senior Member
    British English (Sussex)
    If we change "when" to "by the time", I think the problem goes away:

    "By the time the Cold War ended, so too had the rationale for much foreign aid."
     

    wandle

    Senior Member
    English - British
    That handles one side of it, but there is still the problem of 'so too'.

    'So' here means 'in that way'; therefore, it defines the end of the rationale for aid as something that happened in the same way as the end of the Cold War.
    This makes the end of the Cold War, in a sense, logically prior.
    The word 'too' tells us that the end of the rationale for aid came additionally to the end of the Cold War.

    These two little words in combination convey the message that the end of the rationale for aid followed the end of the Cold War.
    The choice of tenses puts it just the other way round.
     
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    Thomas Tompion

    Senior Member
    English - England
    If we change "when" to "by the time", I think the problem goes away:

    "By the time the Cold War ended, so too had the rationale for much foreign aid."
    I think so means in the same way, here.

    John saw the cat, so too did Charlie - Did John see the cat? Just as Charlie did.
    John saw the cat, so too had Charlie - Did John see the cat? Just as Charlie had done.

    When John saw the cat, so too did Charlie - Did John see the cat? At the same time as Charlie.
    When John saw the cat, so too had Charlie - When John saw the cat, Charlie had already seen it.

    By the time John saw the cat, so too did Charlie - Just as John saw the cat, Charlie saw it as well.
    By the time John saw the cat, so too had Charlie - :eek:

    I think Velisarius's suggestion is interesting, but I'm not clear that the problem goes away completely - I'm not entirely happy with When John saw the cat, so too had Charlie.

    The invitation to a parallelism made by so to is at odds with the difference in tenses.
     

    Wordsmyth

    Senior Member
    Native language: English (BrE)
    [...] If you look at my proposed example (post #14), in green, the last lines follow this 'rule,' clearly.
    Then, in 1991, Soviet Union ceased to exist; the cold war ended. The rationale of the past forty years, thus, too, had ended, and the US began to cut aid to third-world countries it perceived as unlikely to be allies or to become suppliers of natural resources.
    Your admonishment about 'standard usage' is unnecesarry. [...]
    I fully agree that the example in green is consistent with the normal use of the past perfect. In the final sentence, there are two tenses in the two independent clauses: "the rationale ... had ended" (past perfect), and "the US began to cut aid" (simple past). To me, this is saying that at the moment when the US began to cut aid, the rationale of the past forty years had already ended (even if only briefly before).

    In fact my comment about not invalidating the standard usage (no admonishment intended, just a discussion) was related to your:
    [...] [3] No, 'did' here and 'had' have the same meaning.

    [...]

    Parla's proposal (I think): When the Cold War ended, so too did the rationale for much foreign aid.
    OP:
    When the Cold War ended, so too had the rationale for much foreign aid.
    No difference, in my opinion.
    My only point was that, while you see "did" and "had" as the same, that's not what learners will encounter as the usual use of the simple past and past perfect, nor does it appear to be a view held by others here in this thread.

    Sorry if I wasn't clear enough before.

    Ws:)
     
    Just to be clear, here, Wordsmyth. You are saying that these two sentence have a different meaning.

    Parla's proposal, I think: When the Cold War ended, so too did the rationale for much foreign aid.

    OP: When the Cold War ended, so too had the rationale for much foreign aid.


    You are saying that the first indicates simultaneity and the second suggests that the ending of the rationale is before or just before the end of the Cold War.

    Do I read you correctly?
     

    Wordsmyth

    Senior Member
    Native language: English (BrE)
    Yes, that's pretty much it, benny.

    Though I'm not saying that simultaneity in the first comes from the use of the simple past (which in itself just says it's past, with no relative time reference). As others have said, simultaneity (or even the idea that the rationale's ending logically follows the end of the Cold War) is suggested by "When ... so too ...".

    In the second, the use of the past perfect "had" indicates an earlier occurrence. But, like SwissPete, Parla, ThomasT and wandle, I'm not completely comfortable with its use in combination with "When ... so too" ...
    I think so means in the same way, here.
    [...]
    When John saw the cat, so too did Charlie - Did John see the cat? At the same time as Charlie.
    When John saw the cat, so too had Charlie - When John saw the cat, Charlie had already seen it.
    [...]
    I'm not entirely happy with When John saw the cat, so too had Charlie.

    The invitation to a parallelism made by so too is at odds with the difference in tenses.
    [...] 'So' here means 'in that way'; therefore, it defines the end of the rationale for aid as something that happened in the same way as the end of the Cold War.
    This makes the end of the Cold War, in a sense, logically prior.
    The word 'too' tells us that the end of the rationale for aid came additionally to the end of the Cold War.

    These two little words in combination convey the message that the end of the rationale for aid followed the end of the Cold War.
    The choice of tenses puts it just the other way round.
    Ws:)
     

    velisarius

    Senior Member
    British English (Sussex)
    I think so means in the same way, here.

    By the time John saw the cat, so too did Charlie - Just as John saw the cat, Charlie saw it as well.
    By the time John saw the cat, so too had Charlie - :eek:

    I think Velisarius's suggestion is interesting, but I'm not clear that the problem goes away completely - I'm not entirely happy with When John saw the cat, so too had Charlie.

    The invitation to a parallelism made by so to is at odds with the difference in tenses.
    Without being entirely convinced by my own argument, I think it deserves more than an EEK!

    "By the time John saw the cat": the seeing is momentary, whereas "ended" can have duration in: "By the time the Cold War ended". It was a process, even though it took place relatively quickly.

    If we must bring John and Charlie into the picture, maybe something like: "By the time John grew up, so too had Charlie (grown up.) They needn't have grown up simultaneously, so the tenses don't have to be the same. "So too" means 'in the same way", not "at the same time."
     

    Wordsmyth

    Senior Member
    Native language: English (BrE)
    If we must bring John and Charlie into the picture, maybe something like: "By the time John grew up, so too had Charlie (grown up.) They needn't have grown up simultaneously, so the tenses don't have to be the same. "So too" means 'in the same way", not "at the same time."
    I'm with you on that last point, veli. It's not "so too" that implies simultaneous actions; and "By the time ..." doesn't either, because it suggests that the second action took place during a period leading up to the first action.

    But in the case of "When ... [simple past] ... so too ...", I'd say there's the idea that the first action took place at a particular time, and so too did the second (at the same time).

    I'm not entirely at ease with "By the time John grew up, so too had Charlie", but probably for semantic rather than grammatical reasons. John's growing up was a gradual process, rather than an action at a point in time, so I'd find it more natural to say "By the time John had grown up, so too had Charlie". I think the basic reference point in the sentence is "the time" (the end-point of John's growing period), and both John's growing up and Charlie's growing up had already happened by then — John's being only just completed, Charlie's ending at some undefined time no later than John's.

    Ws:)
     

    wandle

    Senior Member
    English - British
    In the second, the use of the past perfect "had" indicates an earlier occurrence. But, like SwissPete, Parla, ThomasT and wandle, I'm not completely comfortable with its use in combination with "When ... so too" ...
    'Not completely comfortable with it'? I regard it as a mistake!
     
    There's too much focus, as I see it, on the single sentence in isolation. I said in post #14 (excuse the self-quote) "the point is that the tense issue is more a result of clumsiness in combining [clauses] in a single sentence." I proposed a solution. The subsequent, interesting discussion of "when" and "so too," the linking words, seems to point in a direction is consistent with what I was trying to say, however opaquely. The author, in his(?) connecting words and in his compression created the awkwardness and conceptual confusion, e.g. about timing. Consider this alteration of connectors: The cold war ended. Thus too (had) ended the rationale for much foreign aid.

    Leaving the 'had' issue aside for the moment, I see no problem.

    As to' had'-- in isolation, it seems to have no point, here. It would not be present in normal talk. BUT were there a paragraph (an example of which, I gave, post #14), the 'had' might make sense. Such a paragraph would be mainly in the past tense, but the past perfect must be used, in a single sentence to highlight a period in which other past events are embedded. Or, the past perfect sentence could be a kind of 'stage setting' for later past events specified. "The rationale for much foreign aid had ended. Cuts to aid to the Congo were immediately instituted. (etc.)"

    It has been a very enlightening discussion for me; one that highlights the mare's nest of confusions created in clumsy sentence construction.
     
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