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Hi,

I've found a difficult sentence in a text I must translate. Apparently, is is not a typo, but I cannot quite understand what it means. The text has just described how oxen could be used to measure the price of articles, and then it goes to explain why a more convenient unit should be used. And in between we've got:

"But the diversity in value between different cattle, the great size of the units, and the fact that they could not be divided, as well as the speculative element which entered into them the cattle might deteriorate in keeping, they might also be productive while kept: all these qualities would make such a unit inadmissible in times when calculation is carried to a nicety."

Might it be replaced with "as well as the speculative element that came into their heads that the cattle might either deteriorate or be productive while kept"? Or does it have an altogether different meaning? Is the original construction usual?

Thanks a lot in advance.
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It badly need a rewrite. It should be a simple list of "all these qualities."

1. the diversity in value between among different cattle,

2. the great size of the units,

3. the fact that they could not be divided,

4. the speculative element (that the cattle might deteriorate in keeping, or be productive while kept)

Since you follow the list with "; all these qualities etc.," there's no need for conjunctions like "and" or "as well as" - at least if you insist on making the whole thing a single clause.

The expression "which entered into them" is totally useless, as far as I can see.

There seems to be a half-hearted attempt to break the list up, but it doesn't work.

This list, plus its appositive "all these qualities" make up the subject of the sentence. "Would make" is the verb. Purity, body, flavor, all these qualites would be nice.

It would be much more readable as three separate sentences, in my opinion.

I'd say, "But there are many problems with this system, such as (1), (2), and (3). period! There is also (4). period! All these qualities etc."
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The sentence is a grammatical mess, especially the part in bold. I guess it would improve marginally if there were a colon after entered into them. What follows explains the speculative element: the cattle might deteriorate or be productive. They and them seem to be used because cattle is a plural word.

In my opinion you have understood the sentence as correctly as it can be understood!Emotion: smile I look forward to native speakers' opinions, though.

CB
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 Avangi's reply was promoted to an answer.
Thanks a lot for your suggestions. The whole text to which this sentence belongs is, in my opinion, written in a very poor style, but this sentence really takes the biscuit, to the point of making it almost unintelligible. However, I though it might be just a case of its being too highbrow for me. I am doing a course in translation, and this text is one of the exercises I must do, so I thought they might be trying to push us forward towards more difficult things. (By the way, I'm not trying to cheat by asking you - it is permitted, since turning to all possible sources is something a real translator is supposed to do.)

To me, it was important to get the right meaning of the sentence for the exercise; from what you've said, I think I've got it. But I think I must also have a discussion with my teacher so as to find out whether I should keep the bad style. I am sure I wouldn't write it like that, either in Spanish or English, but maybe my aim should be just that of translating, without modifying the style, and let all the blame go to its original author. My personal option would be something in the line of what Avangi has suggested, but it might be too big a change for the purposes of the exercise.

This course has an internet forum, and some other student asked the teacher whether this was a typo, since it made no sense to him, but the teacher answered that the sentence was all right, and that it was just a bit difficult to understand. Yuck!

Thanks again for your help.
AvangiIt badly need a rewrite. It should be a simple list of "all these qualities."

1. the diversity in value between among different cattle,

Do you think that between is the better choice if 'different cattle' is used to distinguish between cows, bulls and steers?

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Hi, Avangi

A small point I want to get clear on. Could you tell me if "calculation is carried to a nicety" in essence means "calculation is performed with precision" or something to that effect?

Am I on the money?

Thanks !
Exactrly so, Pernickety!Emotion: smile
Hi, Ivanhr,
The noun "diversity," is like the noun "variety." We don't say "variety between," to the best of my knowledge.

Perhaps a word like "contrast" would work with both prepositions: contrast among; contrast between.Emotion: thinking
I guess "difference" also works that way.
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Colombo "But the diversity in value between different cattle, the great size of the units, and the fact that they could not be divided, as well as the speculative element which entered into them the cattle might deteriorate in keeping, they might also be productive while kept: all these qualities would make such a unit inadmissible in times when calculation is carried to a nicety."

Might it be replaced with "as well as the speculative element that came into their heads (which enters into the mix) that the cattle might either deteriorate or be productive while kept"? Perhaps this is what the author had in mind? It's reminiscent of Pernickety's thread on "that doesn't enter into it."

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