why is the subject "statement" not "prime minister"?

sky753

Senior Member
Chinese
Hello Everyone,

The following sentence is taken from NPR news in 1980s, I would like to know here why "statement" not "prime minister" is used as subjective in the sentence?( The sentence is taken from NPR news in the 1980s.?

A group of more than a thousand students and youths caused thousands of dollars of damage by burning and stoning the offices of the South African trade mission, South African Airways, Air Malawi, and the Malawian High Commission. The demonstrators suspected South African complicity in the plane crash that killed Mozambiquan President Machel in South Africa and blamed Malawi for supporting the Pretoria-backed insurgents that are attacking Mozambique. Zimbabwean government officials appealed for calm, and a statement from Prime Minister Mugabe just back from a trip to London is expected tomorrow.

If statement replaced by Prime Minister, the sentence can be adjusted to "Prime Minister Mugabe just back from trip to London is expected to make a statement"

Could you tell me the reason why statement not prime minister is used here?

Best regards

Sky
 
  • JulianStuart

    Senior Member
    English (UK then US)
    Both are possible in English:
    1) A statement from X is expected.
    2) X is expected to make a statement.

    The first part of a sentence is usually considered the more important information - in 1, the statement is what the sentence is about, while in 2, it's more about what X is expected to do.

    The writer decides which way round the sentence is written:)
     
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    sky753

    Senior Member
    Chinese
    Thanks for your time, Julian. In my opinion, the writer use his sentence probably because, he thinks, the sentence is more concise than the sentence starting with "the prime minister", as you know, the "statement" sentence is two words more than the "prime minister" sentence.(to, and make). Since the sentence is part of NPR news, and the essence of news is conciseness. I am wondering if your native speakers can agree with me on the analysis.

    Also, I suppose, using the writer's sentence is more smooth in its context than the "prime minister" sentence. But I can't give my analysis here, could someone give your opinion here?
     

    JulianStuart

    Senior Member
    English (UK then US)
    I think you are over-thinking this:) I doubt very much that conciseness and word count were a big concern in the writer's mind. One possible reason to put statement first was that it would add to the "appeals for calm" - it is in the same conceptual category as "appeal".
     

    bennymix

    Senior Member
    sky, it's rather simple. The preposition 'from' indicates that what follows is unlikely the subject, rather it's the object of the preposition, with the phrase acting, here, as an adjective.

    Compare: A flower from my garden is now in a vase in my dining room.

    Flower is the subject and the prepositional phrase following is adjectival.
     

    sky753

    Senior Member
    Chinese
    I think , I haven't considered too much about the conciseness of a sentence related to the words numbers in it. One intepretation book by a native American states ( I will add the author and the book name here asap) that to make description more conscise, we should avoid using the following phrases pattern: like make a decision, make a reservation, etc, instead, the structure of descide..., reserve sth. should be used.

    And what you have said that statement and appeal is of the same or similiar category is very intresting to me. Do you mean that sometimes to make sentences in a passage more coherent, a sentence ending with a vocabulary of a particulary category(like appeal here) should be followed with a sentence starting with the same category as the beginning( like statement here)

    If my understanding is correct, could you give me more such examples here?

    Thanks
     

    bennymix

    Senior Member
    'decide' [verb]vs. 'make a decision [noun]' is really another issue, sky. Sometimes the shorter is best, but not always. This needs its own thread in my opinion.

    Note that in your original sentence
    [start excerpt]
    a statement from Prime Minister Mugabe just back from a trip to London is expected tomorrow.

    [sky:] If statement replaced by Prime Minister, the sentence can be adjusted to "Prime Minister Mugabe just back from trip to London is expected to make a statement" [end excerpt]

    --
    The alternatives both involve 'statement' as a noun. {As do Julian's suggestions.} It take some re writing to used the verb state, and I see no reason to do so. This is a new issue.

    {The PM will state his views when he comes back.} I see no reason for this.
     
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    JulianStuart

    Senior Member
    English (UK then US)
    I think , I haven't considered too much about the conciseness of a sentence related to the words numbers in it. One intepretation book by a native American states ( I will add the author and the book name here asap) that to make description more conscise, we should avoid using the following phrases pattern: like make a decision, make a reservation, etc, instead, the structure of descide..., reserve sth. should be used.

    And what you have said that statement and appeal is of the same or similiar category is very intresting to me. Do you mean that sometimes to make sentences in a passage more coherent, a sentence ending with a vocabulary of a particulary category(like appeal here) should be followed with a sentence starting with the same category as the beginning( like statement here)

    If my understanding is correct, could you give me more such examples here?

    Thanks
    If you goal is to be as concise as possible, that would be good advice; however, I don't think that was a priority for this writer.
    As for the decision to structure the sentence as 1) above, we will never know why it was chosen over 2). I doubt whether the writer even considered version 2), and version 1) came spontaneously to mind. The information contents of 1 and 2 are equivalent. I speculated on one possible subconscious reason that might have influenced the writer. We don't think of all the possible ways of providing information and all the sentence structures that might achieve that goal and then decide which is the preferred one!! We just write:)
     
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