The board, in imitation of so wise and salutary an example

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sami33

Senior Member
arabic
Hi

Please, I can't understand the meaning of the underlined expression because I' ve never came across of this order of words: adjective+article+noun<<<salutary an example.
This is the context:

In great families, when an advantageous place cannot be obtained, either in possession, reversion, remainder, or expectancy, for the young man who is growing up, it is a very general custom to send him to sea.
The board, in imitation of so wise and salutary an example, took counsel together on the expediency of shipping off Oliver Twist, in some small trading vessel bound to a good unhealthy port.

Source: Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens.
Thank you very much in advance
 
  • suzi br

    Senior Member
    English / England
    I don't know why you are bothered by the order of word-classes here, I do not really understand that bit of your question, but the phrase is one of those slightly tongue in cheek comments which Dickens likes to use which might be classed as ironic. It almost means the opposite of its face-value meaning.

    Over all he is saying that it is common to send away (to sea) the young men who cannot get a decent inheritance in the family. The board copy this good example and discuss this as an option for Oliver.

    in imitation means copying
    what they are copying is "so wise and salutary an example" i.e. a very wise and beneficial example (that of getting rid of the problem by sending it away).

    Does this help? Ask again in you need more!
     

    owlman5

    Senior Member
    English-US
    Here's a paraphrase that might help, Sami: The board, who were imitating such a wise and salutary example (the example is the custom of sending people to sea), took counsel together....
     

    sami33

    Senior Member
    arabic
    Thank you so very much suzi and owlman.
    The problem was the "an" between "salutary" and "example" ( between an adjective and a noun) I can't understand it at all.
    The usual order(to me) is this one wrote by owlman5: a salutary example. not "salutary an example".
     
    Last edited:

    owlman5

    Senior Member
    English-US
    Thank you so very much suzi and owlman.
    The problem was the "an" between "salutary" and "example" ( between an adjective and a noun) I can't understand it at all.
    The usual order(to me) is this one wrote by owlman5: a salutary example. not "salutary an example".
    Thanks for the clarification, Sami. "So salutary an example" is just a fancy, backwards way to say "such a salutary example". You'll run across this sort of inversion more often in nineteenth-century literature than you will in more recent language.
     

    EStjarn

    Senior Member
    Spanish
    ...I' ve never came across of this order of words: adjective+article+noun<<<salutary an example.
    I think it's necessary to add an adverb (or adverbial) to the structure you mention: adverb + adjective + indefinite article + noun. In this case the adverb is 'so'. Other examples are 'as' and 'too': eight times as large a population; too great a degree of isolation. (Cf. previous threads as good a claim as and so large a head.)
     

    suzi br

    Senior Member
    English / England
    Ah, I understand now ..

    The an is there because of the introductory SO ..


    If we experiment with the word order:

    That is a wise and salutary example. (needs the article)
    So wise and salutary an example must be followed (needs the article)

    We followed the salutary example (does not need it)


    Owlman and I are a helpful team.
    So helpful a team will never let you down!
     
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