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Is it just me or does this sound weird?

To protect such a big empire with wide borders, an accordingly big army is required

When I wrote it initially it seemed a bit off, but I read it again and it seemed okay, but then I read it once again a couple of hours later and now it just seems downright wrong. I'm looking for a second (more educated/experienced) opinion.

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Sounds good to me. –  user18921 May 21 '13 at 3:35
Weird usage typical of native speakers of Chinese. Change it to "To protect such a large empire with long borders, a large army is required". –  user21497 May 21 '13 at 3:43
Hm, maybe I get a bit Chinese when I'm tired? Thanks. –  Blue May 21 '13 at 3:47
Reading it over again is not going to help. Check the meaning and usage of the word and its closely related other words; see their collocations and idiomatic senses. Without showing homework, this question is more of litcrit. Voted to close. –  Kris May 21 '13 at 7:09
"an appropriately big army" sounds better than "accordingly" (to me, at least), though still not the best phrase, I think. –  Kristina Lopez May 21 '13 at 14:01
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3 Answers

The feeling of incorrectness, in my opinion, stems from the connotation of "accordingly." There are other usage irregularities in this sentence, but to focus on the one in question, I would suggest taking note of the subtle variations in meaning of some possible synonyms or non-synonymous alternatives to "accordingly." First and foremost, "accordingly" itself implies that the linkage between the two elements is a matter of accord, which is a conscious, usually intentional agreement of thought. When we tease out the meaning this way, we can see that it doesn't suit the given usage very well. The army is not in accord with the empire.

Now consider these options:

Correspondingly: This would be a good option, I think, since it suggests a concordance of size that does not require a literal equivalence.

Equivalently: This falters in that the correspondence is implied to be very much the same within the realm of some parameter of size, such as length, number, mass, or anything else you choose to define the two items, but it isn't really possible to create this kind of concordance between two such disparate entities as an empire and an army.

Appropriately: This works in that it generically allows for the rightness of the concordance, but I would not choose this alternative unless I wanted to emphasize the moral, political, or philosophical dimension of the choice inherent in the creation of the army.

There are other options, but this should be enough to point out that it is essential to consider the subtle connotations of any word you might choose to fill this space.

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I agree that it does seem a little bit awkward. I think swapping the word "accordingly" with suitably would fit much better. I also prefer large to big, but that is just my preference.

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The primary problem with the sample sentence is the phrase “an accordingly big army”, where large should replace big. Definitions of big and large may be of little help in determining which word is appropriate here; but it appears that big (which suggests “large in volume”) is less suitable than is large for the meaning needed here, “large in number”.

In Bill Franke's comment, “large empire” replaces “big empire”. Changing the first large is less important than changing the second one, but still is desirable because it introduces parallelism that makes the point of the sentence more apparent. Regarding “wide borders” vs “long borders”, say “broad borders” if you mean a deep frontier; say “long frontier” or “lengthy frontier” if you mean a long frontier. Or drop that adjective, as in

To protect the borders of a large empire requires an accordingly large army.

Edit: Kris's comment suggests that use of accordingly in the above is unsatisfactory. A rewording like “The long borders of a large empire require a correspondingly large army for protection” is less deficient: now the subject of the sentence is “long borders”, and both “long borders” and “large army” are scalable. In the former sentence, the subject was the phrase “To protect ...”, which is not scalable.

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-1 'According' to what? –  Kris May 21 '13 at 7:10
@Kris, see edit –  jwpat7 May 21 '13 at 14:16
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