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I can't figure out why did the author put this word in this place in the sentence:

One of the protesters, surnamed Chiu, told a press conference that he was a witness to and victim of police violence in that night.

Is it a typing error or does it have another meaning such that we can't ignore it?


As you said, it means I can exchange the clause into witness of, and the meaning of the sentence won't be changed, right?

eliminate and victim of, the sentence below makes sense now:

One of the protesters, surnamed Chiu, told a press conference that he was a witness to police violence in that night.

appreciate your help :D

  • Have a look at a dictionary. You will find witness to something. – rogermue Dec 6 '14 at 7:36
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Analyse your sentence in terms of the relevant sense units; eliminate the irrelevant elements of the sentence; then look at how the sentence works when you subtract one of the relevant sense units:

One of the protesters [...] told a press conference that he was a {witness to} {and} {victim of} police violence [...].

Hopefully, the answer to your question will then become clearer:

'Witness to' [something] and 'witness of' [something] are both idiomatic combinations that mean more or less the same thing, and would both work here.
'Victim of' is a combination that requires 'of' as the preposition which relates 'victim' to a perpetrator or victimizing force.

  • @sukihibiki - In response to the comment you posted in your question (which should really have been posted under my answer :), you could use the fact that both 'witness of' and 'victim of' take the same preposition to simplify the sentence by dropping the first 'of': "...told a press conference that he was [both] a witness and victim of police violence [in] that night". (The insertion of 'both' is optional, but I think that including it increases the rhetorical impact of the sentence.) – Erik Kowal Dec 6 '14 at 9:57

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