Word order - How to recognize when one adjective modifies only....

Discussion in 'English Only' started by Frigolin, May 31, 2006.

  1. Frigolin

    Frigolin Senior Member

    Buenos Aires
    Argentina - Español
    Hi there, everyone! I have a question for you: is there a way for how to recognize whether an adjective at the beginning of a sentence modifies only the noun that comes after it or also the following? Like in this example:

    bla, bla, bla..., the rubric of sociocultural praxis - the contextually-situated, interactional establishment, maintenance, and renewal (transformation) of social relations in socities.

    Is contextually-situated modifying here the "interactional establishment", "the maintenance" and "renewal"? Or just "the establishment? What happens with interactional? Do the commas give me a cue?

    Sometimes I can figure it out by the context, but I´m having difficulty seeing the difference here.

    Thanks in advance,

    Yours faithfully,

  2. rsweet

    rsweet Senior Member

    English, North America
    What a horrible sentence! How dedicated (and brave) you are to try to figure it out!

    My answer is that the sentence, as written, is ambiguous. The adjectives could modify only the first noun in the list or all three. To me, it looks as if they're modifying all three. If you were writing a sentence like this and wanted to be more precise, you could put the modified single noun last in the list or use semicolons to separate the items in the list (You can do this if the commas separating coordinate adjectives and the commas separating items in a list seem to run together.).
  3. CAMullen Senior Member

    US, English
    Yes, Frigolin, I agree with RSweet that A) you are brave for delving into this, and B) the sentence means that the establishment, maintenance, and renewal of social relations in societies are contextually-situated and interactional - whatever that is supposed to mean.
  4. Frigolin

    Frigolin Senior Member

    Buenos Aires
    Argentina - Español
    Thank you, dear rsweet and CAMullen! And not that I´m brave: it´s just work, yeah..., work...
    Anyway, I´m grateful for you being so clear. This thing about English in particular confuses me a bit, but I guess we also have our own ambiguities in Spanish after all.

  5. boonognog Senior Member

    Charlotte, NC
    English (U.S.)
    Frigolin, I agree with the other posters (on both counts!) and would only add that sometimes the only way to be sure you are understanding what an author is trying to say is to ask someone who is more familiar with other writings by the same author -- so there is some frame of reference for the paradigm of the author's "personal grammar".
  6. Frigolin

    Frigolin Senior Member

    Buenos Aires
    Argentina - Español
    Thanks, Boonognog! I´ll take that into account, though I´m not sure I know someone who is familiar with the author´s "personal grammar". Anyone there willing to give me a hand?
    Thanks, again, for your time and the advise!



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