Please help me to find the meaning of this context:

Argentina, which for many years portrayed itself as a beacon of European sophistication in a continent of New World backwardness,now is a poor country.

closed as off-topic by Dan Bron, linguisticturn, sumelic, Michael Harvey, jimm101 Oct 14 '18 at 1:24

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  • Please include the research you’ve done, or consider if your question suits our English Language Learners site better. Questions that can be answered using commonly-available references are off-topic. A good place to start would be to look up any words you're unfamiliar with in a dictionary or translating dictionary. – Dan Bron Oct 12 '18 at 20:08
  • @DanBron Native speakers, esp. monolingual ones, often underestimate the difficulty a non-native speaker faces when trying to find the "correct" meaning of a word in a dictionary. I myself had to look hard to find a reference that associates sophistication with progress. Keep in mind that the primary purpose of this site is to help people, not discipline them. – michael.hor257k Oct 12 '18 at 21:36
  • 1
    @michael.hor257k I don’t disagree with anything you say. Except the implication is that this site is designed to help non-naive speakers. That isn’t the case. This site is aimed at native and fluent speakers, and in particular with a focus on theory, not practice. We have a different site aimed at helping non-native speakers learn the language, with a bent towards practical problems and pedagogy: English Language Learners, linked from my first comment. This question should be asked and answered there. – Dan Bron Oct 12 '18 at 21:55
  • @DanBron I don't think this site is aimed at native speakers only. Fluent (reasonably fluent, at least), yes - but not necessarily native. I often vote to close questions as belonging to ELL, but I am not at all convinced this is a good candidate. – michael.hor257k Oct 12 '18 at 22:17
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    I also feel obliged to point out that posting on ELL is not a punishment or insult. It’s designed to help people who want become fluent in the language, become fluent in the language. Too many people model it mentally as “the kids’ table” or something. Not at all, it’s simply for a different audience. – Dan Bron Oct 12 '18 at 22:23

The word beacon here is used figuratively to mean:

  1. a person or thing that serves as a guide, inspiration, or warning
    Collins English Dictionary

The word sophistication is contrasted with backwardness - so in this context it means advance:

The definition of sophisticated is someone that is intelligently worldly and smart or advanced processes or technology.

In other words, a beacon of European sophistication could be rephrased as a leader in European progress.

  • So, this answer is not useful? Or perhaps there are malicious downvoters? – michael.hor257k Oct 12 '18 at 21:39
  • A beacon of sophistication reminds me strongly of a paragon of virtue. – Jason Bassford Oct 12 '18 at 22:05
  • @JasonBassford Yes: I think the original sentence is a bit sarcastic (note the "portrayed itself"). – Andrew Leach Oct 13 '18 at 15:55

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