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4. The prime number few.

Beats me. Maybe "prime" is a collective noun like "meek" in "The meek shall inherit the earth", and maybe "number" ... mean, "There are few prime numbers", but that's not true. If I remember right, the number of primes is infinite.

I wonder whether "the prime" here can be meaning 4 in the entry "prime" in M-W:
4 : the chief or best individual or part : PICK
It seems that it can be used as a collective, as in the following ad:

"But the prime of the apartment are the terraces which have nice views to both sea and mountains".
If I were told the above sentence by someone who is trying to sell me an apartment, I guess I could reply, if the terraces were few:
4. The prime number few.

Is this a plausible interpretation of the sentence?

Use pauses (commas) and consider "sold" as a past participle:
6. The tycoon, sold the offshore oil tracts for a lot of money, wantedto kill

Javi
Maybe a pair of commas could help: 6. The tycoon, sold the offshore oil tracts for a lot of money, wanted to kill JR.

That changes the clause from restrictive to non-restrictive, and therefore changes the meaning significantly. The original version is telling us which tycoon is meant the one who bought the tracts. In the revised version assumes we know which tycoon is meant, and the clause about the tracts is to tell us the sequence of events (i.e. first he bought the tracts, then he wanted to kill JR).

Mark Brader, Toronto > "Courtesy, hell. We're programmers not humans." (Email Removed) > S. M. Ryan

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Pat Durkin is one of several who have translated:
4. The prime number few.

as:
The prime numbers are few.

This reading doesn't work; the original would have to be "the primes number few". Pat's second interpretation:
The prime (the best) number (are counted as) few.

has to be the correct one.

Mark Brader, Toronto "It is almost always wrong to strive for (Email Removed) gilt by association." Martin Ambuhl
Maybe a pair of commas could help: 6. The tycoon, sold the offshore oil tracts for a lot of money, wanted to kill JR.

That changes the clause from restrictive to non-restrictive, and therefore changes the meaning significantly. The original version is telling us ... is to tell us the sequence of events (i.e. first he bought the tracts, then he wanted to kill JR).

I am afraid that I'm being widely misunderstood: in my parsing, "sold" is not a personal verb in the past tense, but a past participle; maybe the more idiomatic version is with the participle phrase at the beginning:

Sold the offshore oil tracts for a lot of money, the tycoon wanted to kill JR.
Is the parsing

6. The tycoon, sold (=past participle) the offshore oil tracts for a lotof money, wanted to kill JR.
acceptable in English? Until an hour ago I would have bet that it were, but now I am in doubt.

Javi
2. The man who hunts ducks out on weekends ("hunts ducks" is misleading. The sentence means "men who hunt at weekends shirk their other responsibilities.")

Surely it's "men who hunt don't do their share of the work at weekends" - that is, it's the ducking not the hunting that takes place on Saturday and Sunday?

It's only the same as "The man who believes goes to church on Sunday" - I see nothing wrong with it except for the garden path produced (trodden?) by the ducks.
Katy
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Example 4, "The prime number few", makes sense if "The prime" is referring to the best (prime) of some sort of thing, person or animal.

I have no problem with "the prime" as described above - it's not a common usage but perfectly clear. However, I do find "number few" to be very odd.

The purposes (for which matrimony was ordained) number three.

The soldiers numbered one hundred and five.
But I don't think you can number few (or many). You can be few, or many, or one hundred and five, but the verb "to number" implies that we are going to be told the number.
I have, however, strayed off the garden path.
Katy
The commas can be used, of course, but their use absolutely requires the "who" to introduce the dependent clause. Commas ... is present, however. The tycoon, who sold the offshore oil tracts for a lot of money, wanted to kill JR.

No, the oil tracts were sold *to* the tycoon, not by him. "Who" changes the sense entirely.
Katy
6. The tycoon sold the offshore oil tracts for a lot of money wantedto kill
Beats me.

Use pauses (commas) and consider "sold" as a past participle: 6. The tycoon, sold the offshore oil tracts for a lot of money, wanted to kill

By George!
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kill The commas can be used, of course, but their ... is the one who wanted to kill JR.)

I meant the past participle "sold" as in "having sold": 6. The tycoon,(having) sold the offshore oil tracts for a lot of money, wanted to kill JR.

No, no, you had it so beautifully right the first time: "(having been) sold".
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