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I started reading an other book where I read, in its Introduction, the phrase written in bold below (I am quoting the full paragraph in which it is mentioned) which I do not understand because it seems to me the meaning is cut somehow. Or maybe I am missing something. Note that when the bold phrase below ends, a totally new paragraph begins:

I have discovered that as we learn to accept change as a fact of life, and accept grief and growth cycles as a definition of the process that makes us "change resilient", creativity increases. Every time we manifest our personality -some aspect of how we think, what we think, who we like, what we do, how we see and solve a problem, how we express our feelings- every single way we, "Insist on ourselves!" as Emerson would say, we paint a picture of the world to see. The stronger and bolder these pictures become mirror our courage to face crisis and overcome them, using life energy in the service of growth.

For me, the phrase would make sense only if we put a comma between become and mirror, where mirror is a verb not a noun. Otherwise, I am not able to understand this. Please clarify me if you know.

P.S. The paragraph I quoted exists in a book called: Taking Advantage of Adversity: How to Move from Crisis to Creativity

  • 1
    It might help if you would identify the book and/or provide more of the paragraph that contains this sentence. – Scott Jul 27 '17 at 6:28
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    It would make more sense if the previous sentence ended '...a picture for the world to see'. I'm sure 'mirror' is meant to be a verb. If we present a strong image of ourselves, it shows that we have courage to face crisis (crises?). – Kate Bunting Jul 27 '17 at 8:08
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    I agree with your notion that a comma is warranted here. In Dutch, it is required to put a comma between two verbs (that are not part of the same subclause). Although English tends to often place commas there too, I am not sure if it is an actual requirement (hence why this is a comment, not an answer). – Flater Jul 27 '17 at 11:07
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    If you mean cut as in skipped or condensed, yes, you could look at it that way. Let's grant that standards for pop books don't need to match the classics. I'd process it easier if it said "The stronger and bolder these pictures become, the more they mirror our courage" or "Stronger and bolder pictures mirror our courage." In the second version, the words the/these/become dropped out. – Yosef Baskin Jul 27 '17 at 14:10
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    I agree that the sentence as written is awkwardly worded if not outright ungrammatical. I don't think that a comma would fix it, though: @YosefBaskin's suggestion is on point. – Mark Beadles Jul 30 '17 at 16:02
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+100

The presenting sentence:

  • ??The stronger and bolder these pictures become mirror our courage to
        face crises and overcome them, using life energy in the service of growth.

is crammed with distractions that have nothing to do with the verb mirror,
which is at issue. But if we chop down the sentence to the basics it becomes
incomprehensible, i.e. ungrammatical:

  • *The stronger and bolder these pictures become mirror our courage.

This is almost certainly a mistake for a sentence with the construction normally called
the X-er, the Y-er, where the Y component has been left out inadvertently:

  • The stronger and bolder these pictures become, the more they mirror our courage.

So the answer to the question is that a missing pronoun (they), coreferential with pictures,
is the subject of mirror. But it's put together ungrammatically in the original.

  • I decide to reward the bounty for you because, as I am a self-taught in this language, I needed someone to answer me in a confident way as you did. There is a user here who did not answer to my comment (now deleted) while I was seeking for a confident answerer who is not scared to say the author is wrong and, more importantly, be clear with me. – Billal Begueradj Aug 6 '17 at 8:38
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I had noted in a comment that the bolded sentence in the original was "awkwardly worded, if not outright ungrammatical". Here's why:

The stronger and bolder these pictures become mirror our courage to face crisis and overcome them, using life energy in the service of growth.

To wit: what is the subject of the verb 'mirror'?

  • 'These pictures'? No, that noun phrase seems to be the subject of 'become'.
  • 'The stronger and bolder'? That doesn't seem to be a noun phrase, and even if it is, it's the complement to 'become' and can't stand as a subject of "mirror".

In the comment from @Yosef Baskin above, he makes the admirable suggestion that the sentence would be more clear as follows:

The stronger and bolder these pictures become, the more they mirror our courage to face crisis and overcome them, using life energy in the service of growth.

Which would make 'they' (referring to 'these pictures') the subject of mirror, leaving the sense intact while avoiding the awkward phrasing. One could also write:

As these pictures become stronger and bolder, they mirror our courage to face crisis and overcome them, using life energy in the service of growth.

It seems that somewhere in the writing or editing process, the sentence got a bit too complex and stumbled over itself.

  • As has been remarked, it's an awkward construction but not indecipherable and perhaps not even ungrammatical. The entire phrase "The stronger and bolder these pictures become" seems to me the subject of mirror, but as a concept, so as jlovegren notes below, mirror should be mirrors to agree with a singular subject. – Zan700 Jul 30 '17 at 17:07
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The author is confusing English idiomatic expressions and mistaking number agreement. He probably wants to say:

The strength and courage depicted in these pictures mirrors our courage to face crises and overcome them [in real life], using life energy in the service of growth.

The author is saying, to use an American expression, "fake it 'till you make it." Act like you are strong and courageous, then in real life you'll find yourself actually becoming more strong and courageous.

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    strength and courage = plural. therefore: mirror – Vekzhivi Aug 1 '17 at 13:07
  • @Vekzhivi no, they are mass nouns. even if they were singular, they are coordinated to make a plural noun phrase. – user31341 Aug 2 '17 at 0:03
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    @jlovegren Except for the first word "no" in your comment, you seem to be agreeing with Vekzhivi: The subject, "strength and courage", is plural and therefore needs a plural verb "mirror". – Andreas Blass Aug 2 '17 at 4:45
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    @AndreasBlass that's funny. Yes, I am agreeing with Vekzhivi in the abstract. But it still needs to be mirrors. – user31341 Aug 2 '17 at 13:30
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The answers and the edited versions of the disputed line are really unique, and some renditions are even improvement over the original itself. But, to my mind, at the time of texting, proof reading or printing an unassuming preposition, "OF" slipped off unobtrusively, and caused all this trouble. The fuss is all about this missing preposition of "OF".

  • The stronger and bolder these pictures become mirror -/ OF/ - our courage...

OF. Used to introduce subjunctive genitive; following a noun to form the head of a post modifying noun phrase. A Wiktionary example:

  • Valentino repeatedly solicits the attention (of ) women who have turned away from him.

OF dethroned is now reinstated, and the meaning is discernable.

  • That should be become a mirror of our courage. – Arm the good guys in America Aug 3 '17 at 1:07
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    Read 'mirror' as replica in abstract sense as of Spencer's, " O goddess heavenly bright, / Mirror of grace and majesty divine ". What matters, if it be 'a'! Aren't we all in that nasty game of correcting? – Barid Baran Acharya Aug 3 '17 at 1:23

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