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To further drown him in statistics, amongst all the bowlers who bowled in more than 5 innings away from home in the last 1 year of ODI cricket, Ashwin has the second-worst bowling average after Xavier Doherty, which is really not a surprise.

Is the usage of 'which is not really not a surprise' fine, or is it flawed? It refers to only the main clause 'Ashwin has the second-worst bowling average after Xavier Doherty', which is the surprise part.

  • It's perfectly understandable to me... – mplungjan Feb 4 '14 at 12:47
  • Are you trying to determine proper punctuation for transcribing some audio conversation? – CoolHandLouis Feb 4 '14 at 15:12
  • Proper punctuation! – user64507 Feb 4 '14 at 15:17
  • The syntax of the sentence is such that the emphasized clause indicates that the proposition of the main clause is not a surprise. It does not indicate that the any other propositions also are not a surprise. If the intention is different, then the structure should be as well. – epl Apr 7 at 11:29
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A statement does not have to be true to be grammatical. "Your dog is yellow" is a fine English sentence, regardless of whether your dog is in fact lilac, whether it's actually my dog, or whether either of us owns any animals to begin with.

Likewise, you can add a ", which is really not a surprise" to the end of absolutely any sentence, which is really not a surprise.

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  • It's not really a surprise to me that "which is really not a surprise" only gets 4 hits in Google Books. Whereas there are apparently 653 hits for what seems to me the more natural-sounding word-order, "which is not really a surprise". – FumbleFingers Feb 4 '14 at 14:52
  • @FumbleFingers well yes, hyperbatons gonna hyperbaton. The stress is different and serves a purpose precisely because it is less usual than the usual. – RegDwigнt Feb 4 '14 at 14:58
  • The question is whether the meaning that is inferred from the syntactical construction is the same as the one that is intended, per the user's comment. That the sentence is grammatical is not disputed. – epl Apr 7 at 11:16
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I'm not sure if by fine and flawed you man "does it follow the rules" or "is it open to improvement"?

Is it grammatical? Yes.

Is it clear in its meaning? Yes.

Is it the best possible sentence? Probably not, but how often do any of us write the best possible sentence?

Is it a good enough sentence? Maybe.

It's worth avoiding overly long sentences with many clauses, because shorter sentences with fewer clauses are almost always more understandable.

However, to just slash every long sentence into a few shorter sentences doesn't really help matters:

To further drown him in statistics, amongst all the bowlers who bowled in more than 5 innings away from home in the last 1 year of ODI cricket, Ashwin has the second-worst bowling average after Xavier Doherty. This is really not a surprise.

Does this improve things significantly? I don't really think so.

On it's own, we can probably do better with:

Amongst all the bowlers who bowled in more than 5 innings away from home in the last 1 year of ODI cricket, Ashwin has the second-worst bowling average after Xavier Doherty.

Or, perhaps:

Amongst all the bowlers who bowled in more than 5 innings away from home in the last 1 year of ODI cricket, Ashwin has the second-worst bowling average after Xavier Doherty. This is really not a surprise, because... [explain why this isn't a surprise].

Because the rest hasn't really informed me of anything. But, that's unfair, because this passage presumably doesn't exist on its own, and that little bit of self-satire about drowning in statistics presumably exists in a passage where we have just read several other pieces of statistics. It may even have already explained the lack of surprise.

And that passage may well have delivered those statistics in a volley of short sentences, in which case this longer sentence would give us some welcome breathing space.

So, it's definitely fine and not flawed to a certain extent, but just how good it is needs a wider consideration.

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