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So I had a disagreement with a friend of mine in translating a sentence into my mother language. I wonder if it has 2 meanings. I'll give the following 2 sentences too for you to understand the subject and also because they might effect the meaning of the sentence I want translated. Here it is:

According to the documents which list his works, he designed, supervised, built or restored as many as 400 buildings. But if we consider the fact that he was in charge of the Imperial Body of Architects and the hugeness of the Ottoman territory, it becomes difficult to believe that all these works were directly produced by Sinan personally. However, with the exception of those built towards the end of his life, the buildings erected in İstanbul can be assumed to be his.

So the sentence I want translated is the last one starting with "However". My friend says the sentence means: Except for the buildings built towards the end of his life, the buildings erected in İstanbul can be assumed to be his. And I think it can also mean: The buildings erected in İstanbul can be assumed to be his because of the exceptional (eg.) design and structure etc... Now, the first translation seems to be true but the reason I think it should be translated like the second one is because the sentence starts with "However". So it has to contradict the following sentence. And the following sentence indicates that it is hard to believe that all the buildings were built personally by him. So the sentence starting with "However" has to contradict that... And if we translate it like my friend did, there would be no contradiction. And also why would the sentence compare time (towards the end of his life) and places (the buildings erected in İstanbul). I am sorry for bad English and long question.

  • However strongly However suggests a contradiction of the previous sentence, it doesn’t need to be more than a suggestion, if that. However, while they shouldn’t, many seem to use however in place of almost any conjunction. It’s purely logic, not grammar or semantics, that suggests it’s hard to believe Sinan did all that; at best faulty and quite possibly reverse logic, unless he died young. More… – Robbie Goodwin Sep 28 '17 at 23:34
  • Further, despite that about however, how are those more than one meaning? Except for the buildings built towards the end of his life, the buildings erected in İstanbul can be assumed to be his is hardly an interpretation. The buildings erected in İstanbul can be assumed to be his because of the exceptional (eg.) design and structure etc... isn’t a different meaning; it’s the same meaning, with (slight) explanation. – Robbie Goodwin Sep 28 '17 at 23:36
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No. You're assuming that the count noun exception can have the sense exceptionality.

Collins lists more senses than most dictionaries freely available online:

exception n

  1. the act of excepting or fact of being excepted; omission

  2. anything excluded from or not in conformance with a general rule, principle, class, etc

  3. criticism, esp when it is adverse; objection

  4. (Law) law (formerly) a formal objection in the course of legal proceedings

  5. (Law) law a clause or term in a document that restricts the usual legal effect of the document

  6. take exception

a. (usually foll by to) to make objections (to); demur (at) b. (often foll by at) to be offended (by); be resentful (at)

These do not include the relevant (non-count) sense/s of exceptionality / exceptionalness:

exceptional adj.

  1. forming an exception or rare instance; unusual; extraordinary.
  2. unusually excellent; superior.

exceptionality, exceptionalness, n.

[R H K Webster's]

  • Thank you very much for this answer. And also I have another question now. If the word exception was changed with exceptionality would it be translated as I did? – Mustafa ERTEM Apr 16 '15 at 11:23
  • To your question in the comments, yes, I would think so. – Nicole Apr 19 '15 at 1:40
  • It would be a forced usage and sound unnatural. Surely mention needs to be made of the fact that the Istanbul buildings referred to are correspondingly exceptional in quality. However, when one considers the exceptional design and structure of the buildings erected in İstanbul, which matches that of known examples of his later work, one can reasonably conclude that these buildings are his. – Edwin Ashworth Apr 19 '15 at 7:25
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The problem is with the original, not with you two:-)

That should have been formulated as:

However, as he mainly lived in Istambul for most of his life and was thus present on site and potentially directly involved in the projects, as well as because of their specific design carrying his touch, the buildings erected in İstanbul can be assumed to be his, with the exception of those built towards the end of his life.

But we don't know that. Can you ask the author? Is he/she still among us?:-)

  • I think it’s relatively safe to assume that a reader of a text about Mimar Sinan would know that Constantinople was the capital of the Ottoman Empire, and it should be obvious why the text is talking about Istanbul in particular here. The problem seems rather to lie in a misunderstanding of the word exception, as in Edwin’s answer. – Janus Bahs Jacquet Apr 16 '15 at 9:16
  • "that a reader of a text about Mimar Sinan would know that Constantinople was the capital of the Ottoman Empire" And where did I say differently, eh? Were you really reading what I wrote? – Marius Hancu Apr 16 '15 at 10:08
  • " The problem seems rather to lie in a misunderstanding of the word exception." Misunderstanding on whose part? Author's or OP's/translator's? – Marius Hancu Apr 16 '15 at 10:16
  • I am sorry, the author is unkown. But your comments really made me think if the author misunderstood the word exception just as I did... And I've read another passages's from this author and I've seen another mistakes so it is possible that he misunderstood the word exception. – Mustafa ERTEM Apr 16 '15 at 11:28
  • @MustafaERTEM, I don't think the author misunderstood 'exception'. I'll try to explain the 'however'. "It becomes difficult to believe that all these works were directly produced by Sinan personally" means that he probably had some assistants. Now we're going to contradict that: "However, with the exception of those built towards the end of his life, the buildings erected in İstanbul can be assumed to be his" means that although he probably had assistants for the buildings in Istanbul, too, there is a different state of affairs there. – aparente001 Apr 19 '15 at 5:14
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I think the OP's friend is absolutely right. What I am reading is that people find it difficult to believe he was directly involved in the building of the entire Ottoman Empire, but it can be safe to say he was directly involved in the ones in Istanbul, except those built near the end of his life. I think that the OP might be struggling with "however", not "exception." "However" does not need to directly contradict the previous sentence. In this case the writer made a point about the whole Ottoman territory, then focused in on Istanbul. So the previous sentence before "however" made a point, the "however" sentence made another point. I could say: I was too lazy to clean house today. However, with the exception of the floor, I did manage to get the kitchen clean. Both true and grammatically correct, I think!

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