2

I am struggling with the phrase "... cannot reasonably be misunderstood.", where you may substitute "..." with "The text".

Google returns only a few matches for the phrase and to me (being a non-native English speaker) it looks strange, but I could not pinpoint the problem.

Is it correct and does it mean about "It is not plausible that the text can be misunderstood", or something else?

  • 2
    It is correct, though prolix and complex -- it uses a modal and two negatives -- and it does mean what you suggest it does. Reasonably implies that understanding it is reasonable, or as you put it, plausible. Note that this presupposes the speaker knows how any reasonable person would think, which is an extremely arrogant assumption. – John Lawler Sep 24 '18 at 13:40
  • Personally, I’m loving the irony and self reference of this particular sentence. It’s form of double negative, which is why it is difficult to understand. Try "(The text) can (reasonably) be understood". – Pam Sep 24 '18 at 13:46
  • 1
    @JohnLawler First two sentences: agree. Third: disagree. Reasonableness is a founding principle in law; it's hardly "arrogant" to posit a degree of understanding that would apply to most people. – Chappo Hasn't Forgotten Monica Sep 24 '18 at 14:14
  • 2
    The law is often arrogant. – AmI Sep 24 '18 at 14:51
1

The text cannot reasonably be misunderstood.Yes, this sentence is correct; and yes, it does mean: “It is not plausible that the text can be misunderstood”.

The sentence also implies (at least to me) that if there is anyone who is reading or interpreting the text differently than its “obvious” meaning, he or she is not being reasonable — and must therefor be intentionally misinterpreting the text, for nefarious reasons. The text is clear enough that misinterpreting it by mistake, is simply not believable, or even possible.

  • The text may be clear, but the statement is convoluted. – Hot Licks Nov 6 '18 at 1:43

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.