The original text:

Waves are the children of the struggle between ocean and atmosphere, the ongoing signatures of infinity. Rays from the sun excite and energize the atmosphere of the earth, awakening it to flow, to movement, to rhythm, to life. The wind then speaks the message of the sun to the sea and the sea transmits it on through waves -- an ancient, exquisite, powerful message.

These ocean waves are among the earth's most complicated natural phenomena. The basic features include a crest (the highest point of the wave), a trough (the lowest point), a height (the vertical distance from the trough to the crest), a wave length (the horizontal distance between two wave crests), and a period (which is the time it takes a wave crest to travel one wave length).

Although an ocean wave gives the impression of a wall of water moving in your direction, in actuality waves move through the water leaving the water about where it was. If the water was moving with the wave, the ocean and everything on it would be racing in to the shore with obviously catastrophic results.

An ocean wave passing through deep water causes a particle on the surface to move in a roughly circular orbit, drawing the particle first towards the advancing wave, then up into the wave, then forward with it and then -- as the wave leaves the particles behind -- back to its starting point again.

From both maturity to death, a wave is subject to the same laws as any other 'living' thing. For a time it assumes a miraculous individuality that, in the end, is reabsorbed into the great ocean of life.

What does "both" mean in the context? Does it mean "two maturity", one is the process of message transmission from the sun to the sea and the other is the process of ocean wave movement? Or from maturity to death, and both maturity and death?

  • 6
    It's poorly written/edited. Note that it may have been intended to read "From birth to maturity to death". – Hot Licks May 20 '19 at 1:39
  • @HotLicks, thanks. – Charlie May 20 '19 at 22:25

It seems to me that it doesn't mean anything - it is simply used wrongly to refer to a single item, maturity, which establishes the start of the period in question.

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  • thanks. That's an interesting and surprising point. Yes, it would be much easy to understand without "both." But the paragraph was originally from World Magazine (BBC Enterprise) and appears in a reputable textbook. I suspect there must be some reason for using the word. – Charlie May 20 '19 at 1:39
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    Everybody makes mistakes, @Charlie, even the BBC and reputable academic publishers. I like Hot Licks's comment, that seems the most likely interpretation to me. Maturity isn't the start of something, it's the middle of its development. I think that "both" is a muspront (sorry, misprint) for "birth to" which makes a lot of sense. Spellcheckers often make this problem worse as they sometimes auto"correct" typos to the wrong word and the operator doesn't notice. – BoldBen May 20 '19 at 7:29
  • @BoldBen, thanks for sharing. – Charlie May 21 '19 at 0:47

"Both" here is referring to "maturity and death" ... However it does sound a little awkward and possibly grammatically incorrect. The word can be removed without changing the meaning.

It sounds more natural to say

in both maturity and death


from maturity to death

Contrary to others I don't think they meant to say "birth" here.

"Both" might seem to make sense here to an English Language learner because the sentennce is specifically mentioning two states ("maturity and death"), however when you structure a sentence like "from A to B", you are referring to a range of conditions (everything between maturity and death). So it is not just two conditions, and that's why "both" does not sound right, since that word precisely refers to two subjects

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  • 1
    "In both maturity and death" leads one to assume that it doesn't apply in any other periods. But the author's intention must surely be to cover a wave's entire lifecycle. – Jim May 20 '19 at 21:36
  • Yes @Jim I agree but I was just trying to show how "both" could be appropriately used in a similar context, it doesnt exactly mean the same thing – max pleaner May 20 '19 at 21:51

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