Take the 2-minute tour ×
English Language & Usage Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for linguists, etymologists, and serious English language enthusiasts. It's 100% free, no registration required.

Consider this sentence:

The lives of people whose tools and pottery have been found on its [Lake Titicaca's] shores have long remained a mystery.

Does this sound weird?

I'm particularly interested in the connection that "lives of people have remained a mystery". This goes in contrast with the fact that we actually know little about their lives. And even though they are connected with something we perceive as a mystery, the time span of the mystery goes far beyond the actual lives. Does the tense use reflect this correctly?

Or could/should this be phrased differently, more clearly?

share|improve this question
3  
There's no mystery in the phrasing. It makes perfect sense to me. –  Kris May 14 '12 at 16:48
    
Voting to close as a non-Q. –  Kris May 14 '12 at 16:58
    
@Kris How is this a non-Q? (By the way, you have also answered it, even though you used comment for that.) –  Alois Mahdal May 14 '12 at 17:44
    
"close as a non-Q" is shorthand for one of the five or six preset justifications used when EL&U users vote to close a question. The real language is: Not a real question - It's difficult to tell what is being asked here. This question is ambiguous, vague, incomplete, overly broad, or rhetorical and cannot be reasonably answered in its current form. You've asked: Does this sound weird? Should it be phrased differently? Could it be phrased more clearly? Is the tense correct? I suspect that these four questions put together make this "overly broad" in Kris' mind. –  J.R. May 14 '12 at 18:29
add comment

closed as not a real question by cornbread ninja 麵包忍者, Kris, J.R., aedia λ, kiamlaluno May 17 '12 at 13:34

It's difficult to tell what is being asked here. This question is ambiguous, vague, incomplete, overly broad, or rhetorical and cannot be reasonably answered in its current form. For help clarifying this question so that it can be reopened, visit the help center.If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

2 Answers

It's not about the time spans of the people's lives, and it's not a contrast. If I say

The lives of the people of Borneo have long remained a mystery to me.

I am stating a simple, uncomplicated fact. A mystery is something you know little about and causes you to wonder. That state of mind is not mysterious in and of itself.

share|improve this answer
2  
Notice that @Robusto included the word "the" before "people". I think that adding that word to the original sentence is all it needs. –  Simon Jester May 14 '12 at 16:47
    
@Simon Jester With 'whose' following it, I did not see a need for the definite article before 'people'. –  Kris May 14 '12 at 16:55
add comment

This goes in contrast with the fact that we actually know little about their lives? It's actually in direct correlation. When you know little about someone's life, then his/her life is a mystery to you.

Even though they are connected with something we perceive as a mystery, the time span of the mystery goes far beyond the actual lives. While there may be a mystery at the shores of Lake Titicaca, this sentence is dealing with the actual people who lived there, not the larger picture.

So, to answer your question: No, the sentence does not sound weird, and so does not have to be rephrased.

share|improve this answer
add comment

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.