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Younger people look dispassionately at their cultural traditions and simply pull out the elements that they like. The older generation sees this as a loss of identity, but it could as easily be interpreted as a search for a new identity in which one does not fit himself to the past but makes the past fit him. This is not a rejection of that past, but neither is it an uncritical embrace.

Now, which 'easily' do you native speakers think it is?

1. In an easy manner; with ease.
2. Without question; certainly: (e.g. easily the best play this season).
3. In all likelihood; well: (e.g. a mistake that could easily have ended in disaster).
----------The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language
1 2 3
Comments  
I go for 1, explain later.
In my humble opinion, I tend to think # 3 is a more logical choice. Note this passage: could as easily be interpreted as......
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I think the implication of #3 is of "something negative that might happen/might have happened".

1. It was a mistake that could easily have ended in disaster [but didn't, thank God].

2. It's a policy that could easily end in disaster [but won't, we hope].

Whereas in our example, that interpretation is a possibility that doesn't necessarily have negative connotations.

So I would choose #1.

MrP
Hi guys,


it could as easily be interpreted as a search for a new identity

I think that 'as easily' implies meaning #1. It's as easy to do this as it is to do that.

Consider MrP's example It was a mistake that could easily have ended in disaster [but didn't, thank God].

To my mind, if you add 'as' to this, it takes away or at least greatly reduces the [but didn't, thank God] feeling. It was a mistake that could as easily have ended in disaster.

Best wishes, Clive
CliveTo my mind, if you add 'as' to this, it takes away or at least greatly reduces the [but didn't, thank God] feeling.

Clive, could you tell me why it is so?
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The reason why I chose 1 is that in 2 & 3 "easily" is used to describe only one action. I don't see negative connotations being relevant here unless we look at other words (disaster in 3). So sticking to just the word "easily" and its function in the quote, it is being used to compare two viewpoints. The first uses the verb "sees", and the second one uses the verb "interpret".

With choice 1, I would go further and commit to "with ease". It is difficult to easily construct sentences using "in an easy manner".

She was able to carry her bags and walk in her new high heel shoes (in an easy manner).
She was able to carry her bags and walk in her new high heel shoes (easily / with ease).

An inverse explanation goes back to ruling out 2 and 3.

The answer is without question / certainly / in all likelihood 1. (1 + 2 is certainly 3.)
The answer is easily 1. (1 + 2 is easily 3?)

In the SAME (not easy) manner, we can use math to illustrate 1 being used to describe 2 actions:

36 can just as EASILY be divided into 4 parts as it can be divided into 6 parts (or 2, 3, 9, 12, or 18).
Hi,

The older generation sees this as a loss of identity, but it could as easily be interpreted as a search for a new identity.

It seems to me that the underlying idea is really just a comparison between two ideas or courses of action, with the idea that there's no more reason to favour one rather than the other. In such a case, the choice is easy, in the sense that there's no reason to choose one over the other.

Best wishes, Clive
Clive,

About this 'as easily':

Clive It was a mistake that could as easily have ended in disaster.

as easily as what?
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