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I'd like to ask if these following sentences have the same meaning ?

Hong Kong had been ruled at the whim of its colonial overlords.

Hong Kong had been ruled by arbitrary colonial overlords.

And what should we infer from the sentences, ruler changes often and randomly or the way of their rule changes often and randomly?

  • Your final question is difficult to understand. Can you rephrase it? – Dan Oct 28 '15 at 21:52
  • How should I do – Mrt Oct 28 '15 at 21:52
  • You appear to be asking - 'And what should we infer from the sentences, ruler changes often and randomly or the way of their rule changes often and randomly?' Even if this is correct it is almost impenetrable. A little more context might help. Is this a quote or are the phrases your own? – Dan Oct 28 '15 at 21:55
  • well I wanted to compare those and I looked up a sentence like the first sentence and I found it on the Internet and changed it by adding "arbitrary" and omitting "at the whim of" part. – Mrt Oct 28 '15 at 21:59
  • Arbitrary and whimsical are not the same - see post below. – Dan Oct 28 '15 at 22:01
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Not the same.

To rule whimsically is to rule unpredictably, according only to personal (and quite possibly unfathomable) rules and impulses.

'Arbitrary...overlords' are randomly chosen without thought to their suitability for the job (they may turn out to be good).

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    It's actually ambiguous in OP's second sentence as the whether the overlords are abitrary in their rule, or whether the ruling overlords were arbitrarily selected for rule. – Jim Oct 28 '15 at 21:44
  • @Jim really? Hong Kong had been ruled by arbitrary colonial overlords is not the same as Hong Kong had been ruled arbitrarily by colonial overlords. – Dan Oct 28 '15 at 21:49
  • @Jim do you think the second sentence is grammatically correct even though it is ambiguous or should I say " arbitrary of overlords" – Mrt Oct 28 '15 at 21:50
  • Yes, second sentence is grammatical. I'm just saying it can be interpeted as "had been ruled by overlords that were arbitrary [in their decisions]" or "had been ruled by arbitrarily selected overlords" – Jim Oct 28 '15 at 22:02
  • @Jim how about " Locke was worried about the absolute arbitrary power of kings" – Mrt Oct 28 '15 at 22:07

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