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This book titled "EcoJustice Education: Toward Diverse, Democratic, and Sustainable Communities" has this sentence:

On the positive side of this system is the seemingly infinite variety of produce available (to those who can pay) all year long, which many of us now simply take for granted.

What does the main clause in bold mean?

(1) On the positive side of this system is the seemingly infinite variety of produce that is available (to those who can pay) all year long

(2) On the positive side of this system, the seemingly infinite variety of produce is available (to those who can pay) all year long

If only one of these interpretations is correct, why is the other incorrect?

  • I would interpret it as the former. Does the latter even make sense? – Janus Bahs Jacquet Dec 9 '18 at 14:59
  • @JanusBahsJacquet What about (2) doesn't make sense? Also, is (1) correct even if "is" is replaced with "lies"? – JK2 Dec 9 '18 at 15:03
  • “On the positive side” would work fine in this context, but “on the positive side of the system” doesn’t make sense to me here. The produce isn’t available all year long on the positive side of the system – that doesn’t compute to me. – Janus Bahs Jacquet Dec 9 '18 at 15:07
  • If you change the to a, (a seemingly infinite variety) then (2) works fine. That way, On the positive side of this system more clearly modifies the entire clause. I agree with @JanusBahsJacquet that the phrase is clumsy as written. – KarlG Dec 9 '18 at 15:31
  • @KarlG Thanks for pointing that out. Speaking of the article "the", in the original text or in (1), is it possible to use "a seemingly..." instead of "the seemingly..."? (I understand that "the seemingly..." can be used in the original text because of the presence of the adjective phrase headed by "available".) – JK2 Dec 10 '18 at 1:39
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(1) If one cannot directly place the application of the availability either to "all year long" or "those who can pay," it should be assumed that it applies to both subjects so as to not create any unnecessary confusion and/or misguided assumption.

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"The seemingly infinite variety of produce available (to those who can pay) all year long" is a noun phrase. (2) is not a plausible interpretation of the original sentence.

I don't understand how (1) is supposed to explain the meaning, since you just repeated the same word order as the original sentence. The non-inverted form would be "The seemingly infinite variety of produce available (to those who can pay) all year long is on the positive side of this system." I don't know what exact type of inversion this is.

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