0

I am looking for the best interpretation of the phrase:

... if one structured property contains another, only one of them can be repeated.

Which is central to a StackOverflow question.

In particular, of the following two interpretations, which is (arguably more) correct:

  1. "if one structured property contains another property, ..."
  2. "if one structured property contains another structured property, ..."

Alternatively, is the phrase impossible to disambiguate?

Are there any rules of linguistic canon that may apply?

2
  • 1
    Ask yourself whether 'One small brown toadstool is difficult to tell from another' is ambiguous. Jan 16, 2016 at 9:20
  • @EdwinAshworth Great illustration. Jan 16, 2016 at 23:20

1 Answer 1

1

It this case it is not impossible to disambiguate because the word "one" semantically draws the line for you:

... if one structured property contains another, only one of them can be repeated.

It's "one" unto "another." The word "one" pointedly precedes and so captures both the noun "property" and its adjunct "structured" and carries them both unto "another," or "one other." If the sentence didn't use a anything before "structure," neither an article nor "one," I might not be so firm in this conviction. As it stands, though, the "one" clearly encompasses the adjunct "structured" and parallels it into "an other."

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

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