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This notoriously long sentence gives me a great headache to understand

 
 
Reply Sun 23 Oct, 2011 12:28 am
How to convenienctly get its meaning?
The sentence:

On this subject it might become me better to be silent or to speak with diffidence; but as something may be expected, the occasion, I hope, will be admitted as an apology if I venture to say that if a preference, upon principle, of a free republican government, formed upon long and serious reflection, after a diligent and impartial inquiry after truth; if an attachment to the Constitution of the United States, and a conscientious determination to support it until it shall be altered by the judgments and wishes of the people, expressed in the mode prescribed in it; if a respectful attention to the constitutions of the individual States and a constant caution and delicacy toward the State governments; if an equal and impartial regard to the rights, interest, honor, and happiness of all the States in the Union, without preference or regard to a northern or southern, an eastern or western, position, their various political opinions on unessential points or their personal attachments; if a love of virtuous men of all parties and denominations; if a love of science and letters and a wish to patronize every rational effort to encourage schools, colleges, universities, academies, and every institution for propagating knowledge, virtue, and religion among all classes of the people, not only for their benign influence on the happiness of life in all its stages and classes, and of society in all its forms, but as the only means of preserving our Constitution from its natural enemies, the spirit of sophistry, the spirit of party, the spirit of intrigue, the profligacy of corruption, and the pestilence of foreign influence, which is the angel of destruction to elective governments; if a love of equal laws, of justice, and humanity in the interior administration; if an inclination to improve agriculture, commerce, and manufacturers for necessity, convenience, and defense; if a spirit of equity and humanity toward the aboriginal nations of America, and a disposition to meliorate their condition by inclining them to be more friendly to us, and our citizens to be more friendly to them; if an inflexible determination to maintain peace and inviolable faith with all nations, and that system of neutrality and impartiality among the belligerent powers of Europe which has been adopted by this Government and so solemnly sanctioned by both Houses of Congress and applauded by the legislatures of the States and the public opinion, until it shall be otherwise ordained by Congress; if a personal esteem for the French nation, formed in a residence of seven years chiefly among them, and a sincere desire to preserve the friendship which has been so much for the honor and interest of both nations; if, while the conscious honor and integrity of the people of America and the internal sentiment of their own power and energies must be preserved, an earnest endeavor to investigate every just cause and remove every colorable pretense of complaint; if an intention to pursue by amicable negotiation a reparation for the injuries that have been committed on the commerce of our fellow-citizens by whatever nation, and if success can not be obtained, to lay the facts before the Legislature, that they may consider what further measures the honor and interest of the Government and its constituents demand; if a resolution to do justice as far as may depend upon me, at all times and to all nations, and maintain peace, friendship, and benevolence with all the world; if an unshaken confidence in the honor, spirit, and resources of the American people, on which I have so often hazarded my all and never been deceived; if elevated ideas of the high destinies of this country and of my own duties toward it, founded on a knowledge of the moral principles and intellectual improvements of the people deeply engraven on my mind in early life, and not obscured but exalted by experience and age; and, with humble reverence, I feel it to be my duty to add, if a veneration for the religion of a people who profess and call themselves Christians, and a fixed resolution to consider a decent respect for Christianity among the best recommendations for the public service, can enable me in any degree to comply with your wishes, it shall be my strenuous endeavor that this sagacious injunction of the two Houses shall not be without effect.


 
Lustig Andrei
 
  2  
Reply Sun 23 Oct, 2011 12:33 am
@oristarA,
That is one of the most awful sentences I have ever read in the English language. Who the hell wrote this travesty?

I'll work on it and see if it can be broken down into half a dozen sentences to make the meaning clear. Give me a little time, though, please.
Rockhead
 
  1  
Reply Sun 23 Oct, 2011 12:36 am
@Lustig Andrei,
spendius?
Lustig Andrei
 
  1  
Reply Sun 23 Oct, 2011 12:37 am
@Rockhead,
Damn good guess.
0 Replies
 
MontereyJack
 
  2  
Reply Sun 23 Oct, 2011 02:04 am
Nah, it certainly has spendius's long-windednesss, but it's from John Adams's inaugural address, which probably means that, in definite contradistinction to Spendi, it most likely makes sense if anyone actually sits down and works their way through it.

http://www.britannica.com/presidents/article-9116855
0 Replies
 
Setanta
 
  1  
Reply Sun 23 Oct, 2011 02:04 am
What makes it notorious?
Rockhead
 
  4  
Reply Sun 23 Oct, 2011 02:10 am
@Setanta,
mob ties...


little skinny ones.
Setanta
 
  3  
Reply Sun 23 Oct, 2011 03:10 am
@Rockhead,
Gotcha . . .

http://s9.thisnext.com/media/largest_dimension/BEE9DE4B.jpg
0 Replies
 
oristarA
 
  0  
Reply Sun 23 Oct, 2011 06:25 am
@Setanta,
Setanta wrote:

What makes it notorious?


The length, the longness.

What should bear in mind is that the longness of the sentence is notorious, while its meaning noteworthy. Very Happy

That is, an in-depth reading has led me to believe that the structure of the long sentence is in fact simple enough to be understood.
Setanta
 
  2  
Reply Sun 23 Oct, 2011 06:29 am
@oristarA,
You're not using the word notorious correctly.
oristarA
 
  0  
Reply Sun 23 Oct, 2011 06:30 am
@Setanta,
Setanta wrote:

You're not using the word notorious correctly.


I am confident that I've used the word "notoriously" properly in the title of the thread.
Setanta
 
  1  
Reply Sun 23 Oct, 2011 06:31 am
@oristarA,
And i'm confident that you haven't. But have it your way--i'm sure we can assume you know the English language better than i.
0 Replies
 
ehBeth
 
  1  
Reply Sun 23 Oct, 2011 07:17 am
@oristarA,
oristarA wrote:

Setanta wrote:

What makes it notorious?


The length, the longness.

What should bear in mind is that the longness of the sentence is notorious, while its meaning noteworthy. Very Happy



no

notorious does not simply mean noteworthy.

Quote:
: generally known and talked of; especially : widely and unfavorably known


from an ESL dictionary

http://www.learnersdictionary.com/search/notorious

Quote:

no·to·ri·ous Listen to audio/noʊˈtorijəs/ adjective
[more notorious; most notorious] : well-known or famous especially for something bad
▪ The coach is notorious for his violent outbursts. ▪ notorious [=infamous] cases of animal cruelty
— no·to·ri·ous·ly adverb
▪ The weather is notoriously difficult to predict.
0 Replies
 
ehBeth
 
  1  
Reply Sun 23 Oct, 2011 07:19 am
@oristarA,
Your confidence is misplaced.

Perhaps your "great headache" has damaged your abilities.


(the title of the thread is not well-written)
oristarA
 
  0  
Reply Sun 23 Oct, 2011 08:10 am
@ehBeth,
ehBeth wrote:

Your confidence is misplaced.

Perhaps your "great headache" has damaged your abilities.


(the title of the thread is not well-written)


So you think the length of the particularly long sentence is NOT unfavorably known ?

Please notice the word "length." The meaning of the sentence in the inaugual address has stood up to history - that is why I said its meaning was noteworthy.

No writer nowadays would write such a long sentence, because it is obviously unfavourable, although we cannot deny the fact that the writing was excellent in John Adam's days.
Roberta
 
  2  
Reply Sun 23 Oct, 2011 12:03 pm
@oristarA,
You're wrong, Oristar. The sentence is not well-known enough to be notorious.

MontereyJack
 
  1  
Reply Sun 23 Oct, 2011 01:34 pm
what Roberta said.
0 Replies
 
oristarA
 
  0  
Reply Sun 23 Oct, 2011 05:54 pm
@Roberta,
Roberta wrote:

You're wrong, Oristar. The sentence is not well-known enough to be notorious.




See what you did here: first you made up a conclusion and then threw it at me. Very Happy
0 Replies
 
ehBeth
 
  1  
Reply Sun 23 Oct, 2011 06:40 pm
@oristarA,
You continue to conflate noteworthy and notorious.

As Roberta has noted, "you are wrong".
ehBeth
 
  1  
Reply Sun 23 Oct, 2011 06:41 pm
@oristarA,
oristarA wrote:
because it is obviously unfavourable


what are you trying to say in this sentence fragment?
0 Replies
 
 

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