Which are correct:

1) The establishment of such an economic system is impossible in one country. A few countries have to participate.

2) The establishment of such an economic system in one country is impossible. A few countries have to participate.


3) The establishment of such an economic system is impossible only in one country. A few  countries have to participate.

4) The establishment of such an economic system only in one country is impossible. A few  countries have to participate.

 

Gratefully,

Navi

Original Post
navi posted:

Which are correct:

1) The establishment of such an economic system is impossible in one country. A few countries have to participate.

2) The establishment of such an economic system in one country is impossible. A few countries have to participate.

3) The establishment of such an economic system is impossible only in one country. A few  countries have to participate.

4) The establishment of such an economic system only in one country is impossible. A few  countries have to participate.

Hello, Navi: I wouldn't say that any of those four sentences is incorrect, but I would say that none of them is ideal. (I used the singular twice in that sentence just for you, Navi. ) I think it would be much better, in the first sentence, to use extraposition, thereby ushering the predicate ("is impossible") to the front of the sentence. Along with that change, we can change the nominalization "establishment" to a verb phrase. Then, in the second sentence, we can have recourse to a useful nominalization ("participation"). Here's what I have in mind:

5) It is impossible to establish such an economic system only in one country. Participation by a few countries is required.

I like David's revision.  The only thing I would change is the order of "only" and "in":

5a: It is impossible to establish such an economic system in only one country. Participation by a few countries is required.

As David says, none of Navi's examples are incorrect, and neither is David's.  In all of them, though, there is some inherent ambiguity in the first sentence, which is not resolved until one reads the second.  In my version, the referent of "only" is immediately apparent.

Interestingly, the title Navi gave to the thread reflects this word order, but until now, none of the examples do.  Navi's thread titles are sometimes as enigmatic as Bob Dylan's song titles.

DocV

Doc V posted:

I like David's revision.  The only thing I would change is the order of "only" and "in":

5a: It is impossible to establish such an economic system in only one country. Participation by a few countries is required.

[. . .] In my version, the referent of "only" is immediately apparent.

I like your revision of my revision, DocV. It's true that my placement of "only" allows at least two readings, whereas yours allows for one. Actually, though, now that I say that, I think that they are both ambiguous. Yes, yours can be read in the same two ways! And the same two readings would be available if "only" were placed at the end of the sentence:

(5a'') It is impossible to establish such an economic system in one country only. Participation by a few countries is required.

It is really only the second sentence of my revision and its own revisions that makes the intended reading of the first sentence unmistakably clear. "Only in one country," "in only one country," and "in one country only" are not to be interpreted as specifying where it is impossible to establish such an economic system. Rather, they specify a circumstance under which that is impossible.

Doc V posted:
Navi's thread titles are sometimes as enigmatic as Bob Dylan's song titles.

David,

I agree that in your example, as well as in Navi's, the second sentence makes it clear that the referent of "only" is "one country".  Of course, the word "only" doesn't even occur in Navi's first two examples.

In Navi's (3), without the clarification provided in the second sentence, I would normally understand the first sentence to mean:

3a: There is only one country in which it is impossible to establish such an economic system.

As to (4), it appears to mean either:

4a: The establishment only of such an economic system is impossible in one country.

That is to say that it is necessary to establish more than one thing in a country, or do more than simply establish the system, or:

4b: The establishment of only such an economic system is impossible in one country.

That is, alternative economic systems must be available to be established in a given country, or perhaps in a very specific country.

Your example (5a'') is quite elegant.  As with the others, though, including my own, the second sentence adds clarity.

David, you ended your last post with a quote from mine, but your failed to comment on it.  Can you explain?

DocV

Doc V posted:

I agree that in your example, as well as in Navi's, the second sentence makes it clear that the referent of "only" is "one country".

And your revision is just as ambiguous as mine. "Only" is no more clear in (5a) than it is in (5). "Only" does not need to follow "in" in order to be clear. In order for there to be clarity, there needs to be something else. In this case, that something else is the second sentence. Let's look at my revision and your revision of my revision side by side:

(5) It is impossible to establish such an economic system only in one country.

(5a) It is impossible to establish such an economic system in only one country.

The placement of "only" in your version does not change the meaning of (5a) in any way. It would be absurdly perverse to say that my sentence means "only in one country" as opposed to "out of one country" or "above one country." Such a contrast would require unnatural emphasis on "in": "It is impossible to establish such an economic system only IN one country."

But, no, that is not how the sentence would be read or understood by any English speaker without such unnatural emphasis. "Only" is a mobile word in many sentences, and this is no exception. It doesn't have to be placed right next to "one" in order to modify it. The more important point here, however, is that the sentence is ambiguous regardless of the placement of "only."

According to one reading of (5) and (5a), such an economic system cannot be established in any country unless it is established in at least one other country. (The second sentence then informs us that it needs to be in three.) According to the other reading (5) and (5a), such an economic system can be established in every country except one. The placement of "only" does not alter the ambiguity.

Doc V posted:
David, you ended your last post with a quote from mine, but your failed to comment on it.  Can you explain?

The smiley face following my quotation of you was  (Do I really need to explain this?) used to express my pleasure at reading the content of the quotation.

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