1. vanilla16
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    vanilla16 Member

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    Dumb Question

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by vanilla16, Sep 10, 2011.

    Really dumb question: What does this sentence mean?
    Avion was based solely on the material riches of its inhabitants.
     
  2. VM80
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    VM80 Contributing Member Contributor

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    Doesn't quite make sense to me. I think the 'based', as a word choice, is off.

    'Avion was founded on'... or rather 'Avion was sustained by..', perhaps?
     
  3. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    i agree... the word 'based' renders the sentence incoherent... where did you find it?
     
  4. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    What it means is you have found an excellent example of how a single poor word choice can turn a decent sentence to crud. :)
     
  5. vanilla16
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    vanilla16 Member

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    I found it on the WW forum, but what's wrong with it?
     
  6. thewordsmith
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    thewordsmith Contributing Member Contributor

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    Oh! I love dumb questions. I have so many of my own!

    What's wrong with it? Nothing, really. The word base has a veritable plethora of meanings and uses - as in the sentence you provided. It is used correctly in the sentence but, because too many people may not know the particular context usage, it is not clear and, therefore, a poor word choice. For instance, VM80 suggested "Avion was founded on ..." This, essentially, is the same intent as to say, "Avion was based on ..."

    Just in a quick search, there are three possible interpretations of the word base which the author may have intended:

    Base

    Main supporting element: the main source of an important component in an economy or sphere of influence

    Fundamental principle: the main principle or starting point of a system or theory

    Use something as a basis for: to use something as a base or basis for something else

    In any case, if the sentence causes such comprehension problems, it is probably not the best word choice in this instance.
     
  7. VM80
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    VM80 Contributing Member Contributor

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    Are you sure? They don't seem to be the same, to me. Maybe I'm missing something.
     
  8. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    It's ambiguous to the point of not making sense. I feel as if I need a noun there, as in:

    Avion's influence was based solely on the material riches of its inhabitants.
    or
    Avion's identity was based solely on the material riches of its inhabitants.
    or
    Avion's continued existence was based solely on the material riches of its inhabitants.

    Without a noun, I don't know which meaning, of many possible meanings, is intended. It's not actually grammatically incorrect, but it's meaningless all the same.

    ChickenFreak
     
  9. thewordsmith
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    thewordsmith Contributing Member Contributor

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    Yes. As I said initially, the word 'base' has so many different meanings. Many of them are ignored in general conversation to the point of being nearly archaic or obsolete. But, as I pointed out, to say, "Avion was founded on ..." is, essentially saying, "The principles/economic structure/whatever of Avion was the wealth of its inhabitants." This is the same as saying, "Avion was based on ..." or, "The basis of the structure of Avion is solely the wealth of its inhabitants."

    The problem is, of course, that, if the majority of readers do not understand the usage of the word you might as well be saying, "Avion was flubadub-shnicklefritz-poopypants solely on the wealth of its inhabitants," and it would make as much sense to the reader. So, the obvious conclusion is, if the majority don't understand the word choice, you need to choose another word.
     
  10. digitig
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    digitig Contributing Member Contributor

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    I don't think it's the same thing at all. Synonyms are rarely (never?) exact. I can't find any way for the original to make sense.
     
  11. SeverinR
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    SeverinR Contributing Member

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    I think just by the OP question it shows it does not deliver a clear and concise picture of what they are trying to say.

    It could be worder better.
     
  12. dolly
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    dolly New Member

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    I would read it as Avion being a place that had neither trade nor agriculture to sustain it, simply being a town(?) that was self sufficient on its own riches.

    But, any sentence that has to be queried and pulled apart is a bad sentence.
     

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