Harrumph!

You have words - now what do you do with them?
brogine
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Harrumph!

Postby brogine » Sat May 21, 2022 3:11 pm

VICE News:

NASA’s Voyager 1 probe, the farthest human-made object from Earth . . . .

Is this acceptable construction now? I see a lot like it. Seems scrambled to this old curmudgeon.

Here’s another example I’ve just come across in a novel:

. . . it was the closest marina to Rainbow Bridge.

I guess you could call these ‘split adjectival phrases’.

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Dr. Goodword
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Re: Harrumph!

Postby Dr. Goodword » Sun May 29, 2022 4:31 pm

Since English has such meager grammar, keeping related things together is important. It follows that an adjective and its complement should be kept together: 'farthest from the Earth' and 'closest to Rainbow Bridge' should not be separated. So, I would say the correct (most consistent) way to use these in sentences would be 'the human-made object farthest from the Earth' and 'the marina closest to Rainbow Bridge'.

Languages like Russian, with richer grammars (morphologies). can be less concerned with word order, so the Russian equivalent word order of the English examples you cite are OK since the adjectives and nouns have to agree in morphologically, be in the same nominal declension.
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Audiendus
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Re: Harrumph!

Postby Audiendus » Mon May 30, 2022 1:11 am

Separating the adjective from its complement can give flexibility, e.g:

Jupiter is the fifth-closest planet, and the closest giant planet, to the Sun.

brogine
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Re: Harrumph!

Postby brogine » Tue May 31, 2022 1:30 pm

I respectfully demur. It’s the same illogical construction. A second sentence might be more elegant.
But thanks for your interest.
I suppose there’s often a conflict between conciseness and strict correctness. It’s possible those of us with math/science background are more fussy about this kind of thing.


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