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The policymakers didn't expect the loss because of the new legislation.

Does this sentence sound ambiguous?

I think it can imply #1 or #2 as below, but it seems like #1 does make more sense than #2.

  1. The policymakers didn't expect the loss. The loss is/was because of the new legislation.

  2. It is/was because of the new legislation that the policymakers didn't expect the loss.

(I think #1 is correct if "because of the new legislation" modifies "the loss", but #2 is correct if it modifies the entire sentence, but since #1 does seem to make more sense, I would say the implication of the sentence should be #1, so "because of the new legislation" modifes "the loss")

Please tell me whether my thinking is right.

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fire1Please tell me whether my thinking is right.

Yes, you're right.

This problem occurs whenever you have a negation followed by a because clause. In this situation the negation may apply either to the contents of the main clause or to the contents of the because clause. The poster-child sentence for illustrating the ambiguity goes like this:

She didn't marry him because he was rich.

1) She did not marry him. The reason was that was rich.
Apparently she doesn't like rich men.

2) She did marry him. The reason was not that he was rich.
She married him for a different reason (unstated).

CJ

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Upon rereading your post, I think you are asking about a different ambiguity than I addressed earlier.

Under your interpretation I'd say the intended meaning is #2, not #1. It's very rare, if not impossible, for a "because of" construction to modify a noun.

CJ

You may want to try to find the other ambiguity in your sentence using what I explained in my previous post.

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Comments  
CalifJimCalifJim

3. Some policymakers expected the loss because of the new legislation.

Then, given the rewritten sentence above, I do think that "because of the new legislation" can be analyzed as modifying "the loss" or "Some policymakers expected the loss" as in below A and B.

A. Some policymakers expected the loss, which is/was because of the new legislation.

B. It is/was because of the new legislation that some policymakers expected the loss.

However, it seems that it is correct to analyze "Because of the legislation" as modifying "the loss" because only A does make sense.

I'd like to know whether I'm right.

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Original: The policymakers didn't expect the loss because of the new legislation.

fire13. Some policymakers expected the loss because of the new legislation.
Then, given the rewritten sentence above ...

I don't accept that this is a rewrite of the original sentence, so I don't understand your logic at all.

fire1I'd like to know whether I'm right.

I have to say "no" because it's the expectation (of a loss) that is due to the legislation, not the loss itself.

I may have added another post or modified a post while you were writing yours, so you should probably go back and reread my posts, especially the second one.

CJ

CalifJimCalifJim

I have one more question.

The loss because of the long route was $62,000.

In the sentence above, does "because of the long route" modify "the loss"?

fire1The loss because of the long route was $62,000.

Where did you find this one?

I suppose it's remotely possible, but I wouldn't recommend that anyone write it like that.

fire1In the sentence above, does "because of the long route" modify "the loss"?

I don't see any other choice, so yes, but it sounds weird to me. It seems 'because of' should be at the end, and thus apply to the whole preceding clause.

The loss was $62,000 because of the long route.

CJ

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CalifJimCalifJim

The loss because of the longer route that the farmers had to take on account of bad roads, resulting in loss of time, was $62,000. (https://books.google.co.kr/books?id=USRHAQAAMAAJ&q=%22the+loss+because+of%22&dq=%22the+loss+because+of%22&hl=en&newbks=1&newbks_redir=0&sa=X&redir_esc=y )

I made the sentence above short.

At first glance, I thought "because of the longer route" does modify "the loss".

Do you think the original sentence is still weird?

fire1I made the sentence above short.

Yes, I see that. That's OK.

fire1At first glance, I thought "because of the longer route" does modify "the loss".

In the longer sentence it's easier to see that there's an ambiguity. That whole section because of ... ... ... loss of time might modify just "the loss" or it might modify the whole idea "the loss was $62,000". The use of the same or similar phrases successively in the text tells us that the writer is doing an account of expenditures, so he wants to place the dollar amounts at the end of each sentence. That means moving anything that might destroy the pattern toward the interior of the sentence. It's probably that, more than any consideration of what modifies what, that influences the final form of the text that we see.

fire1Do you think the original sentence is still weird?

Yes. Both the short and the long versions are weird. That phrase "on account of bad roads" sounds like farmer-talk to my ear.

If you look up "About this book", you'll see it's from the year 1912 and it's from some sort of governmental report. That means it's more than 100 years old and written with the special vocabulary of legal reports. Nobody speaks or writes like that in ordinary conversation anymore these days. No wonder it seemed strange to me.

CJ

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