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Worried about potential ambiguity regarding the two bold words:

https://join.substack.com/p/that-moment

Empathy doesn’t mean that you agree with what a hostile country is doing or that you sympathize with what a hostile country is doing—it simply means that you understand the psychology and worldview and historical experience and culture of countries and leaders you don’t agree with.

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Worried about potential ambiguity regarding the two bold words:

https://join.substack.com/p/that-moment

Empathy doesn’t mean that you agree with what a hostile country is doing or that you sympathize with what a hostile country is doing—it simply means that you understand the psychology and worldview and historical experience and culture of countries and leaders you don’t agree with.

Hi, Andrew—Yes, that ambiguity does exist: it is possible for "historical" to be parsed as modifying either "experience" alone or as modifying the conjunction "experience and culture."

That part of the sentence can accordingly be diagrammed in two different ways. Let me know if you'd like to see. If you'd like to remove the ambiguity in such a way that "historical" modifies "experience" alone, you could do this:

  • Empathy doesn't mean that you agree with what a hostile country is doing or that you sympathize with what a hostile country is doing; it simply means that you understand the psychology, worldview, culture, and historical experience of countries and leaders you don't agree with.

In that revision, I reversed the positions of "culture" and "historical experience," deleted two "and"s, added three commas, and changed the em dash to a semicolon.

Last edited by David, Moderator

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