Discussion:
Mary is not, like her mother, a well-educated woman.
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Yurui Liu
2021-01-24 03:08:41 UTC
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Hi,

Are the following sentences ambiguous?

a. Mary is not, like her mother, a well-educated woman.
b. Mary is not a well-educated woman, like her mother.
c. Mary is not a well-educated woman like her mother.
d. Mary is not a well-educated woman, just like her mother.

I'd appreciate your help.
bert
2021-01-24 09:36:24 UTC
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Post by Yurui Liu
Hi,
Are the following sentences ambiguous?
a. Mary is not, like her mother, a well-educated woman.
b. Mary is not a well-educated woman, like her mother.
c. Mary is not a well-educated woman like her mother.
d. Mary is not a well-educated woman, just like her mother.
I'd appreciate your help.
All of them are ambiguous, although (b) is the least ambiguous.

While double negatives are sometimes dangerous, the meaning
is clear in "Unlike her mother, Mary is not a well-educated woman".
Athel Cornish-Bowden
2021-01-24 09:46:31 UTC
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Post by bert
Post by Yurui Liu
Hi,
Are the following sentences ambiguous?
a. Mary is not, like her mother, a well-educated woman.
b. Mary is not a well-educated woman, like her mother.
c. Mary is not a well-educated woman like her mother.
d. Mary is not a well-educated woman, just like her mother.
I'd appreciate your help.
All of them are ambiguous, although (b) is the least ambiguous.
While double negatives are sometimes dangerous, the meaning
is clear in "Unlike her mother, Mary is not a well-educated woman".
That's the natural way to express it, unless the intended meaning is
"Like her mother, Mary is a poorly educated woman"
--
Athel -- British, living in France for 34 years
Paul Wolff
2021-01-24 12:48:37 UTC
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On Sun, 24 Jan 2021, at 10:46:31, Athel Cornish-Bowden
Post by Athel Cornish-Bowden
Post by bert
Post by Yurui Liu
Are the following sentences ambiguous?
a. Mary is not, like her mother, a well-educated woman.
b. Mary is not a well-educated woman, like her mother.
c. Mary is not a well-educated woman like her mother.
d. Mary is not a well-educated woman, just like her mother.
I'd appreciate your help.
All of them are ambiguous, although (b) is the least ambiguous.
While double negatives are sometimes dangerous, the meaning
is clear in "Unlike her mother, Mary is not a well-educated woman".
That's the natural way to express it, unless the intended meaning is
"Like her mother, Mary is a poorly educated woman"
Interesting responses. I don't agree with either.

a. Mary is not, like her mother, a well-educated woman.
Omit the first comma and we read that Mary is not like her
mother, who is a well-educated woman. I'd take the comma after
'not' as just confusing the intention.

b. Mary is not a well-educated woman, like her mother.
Not ambiguous. Neither Mary nor her mother is well-educated.
The placement of the comma means that Mary is not well-educated
and is like her mother.

c. Mary is not a well-educated woman like her mother.
Not ambiguous. Mary's mother is well-educated, but Mary is not.
There is nothing ambiguous in the phrase "a well-educated woman
like her mother". Mary is not such a woman.

d. Mary is not a well-educated woman, just like her mother.
Not ambiguous. Neither Mary nor her mother is well-educated.
--
Paul
Quinn C
2021-01-25 00:08:54 UTC
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Post by Paul Wolff
On Sun, 24 Jan 2021, at 10:46:31, Athel Cornish-Bowden
Post by Athel Cornish-Bowden
Post by bert
Post by Yurui Liu
Are the following sentences ambiguous?
a. Mary is not, like her mother, a well-educated woman.
b. Mary is not a well-educated woman, like her mother.
c. Mary is not a well-educated woman like her mother.
d. Mary is not a well-educated woman, just like her mother.
I'd appreciate your help.
All of them are ambiguous, although (b) is the least ambiguous.
While double negatives are sometimes dangerous, the meaning
is clear in "Unlike her mother, Mary is not a well-educated woman".
That's the natural way to express it, unless the intended meaning is
"Like her mother, Mary is a poorly educated woman"
Interesting responses. I don't agree with either.
a. Mary is not, like her mother, a well-educated woman.
Omit the first comma and we read that Mary is not like her
mother, who is a well-educated woman.
But then we don't know in what way she's unlike her mother - maybe not
as aggressive as her mother, or not as loyal?
Post by Paul Wolff
I'd take the comma after
'not' as just confusing the intention.
To me, it makes it unambiguous, but maybe I'm reading them as German
commas.
--
In the old days, the complaints about the passing of the
golden age were much more sophisticated.
-- James Hogg in alt.usage.english
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