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In the early 1950’s, historians who studied preindustrial Europe (which we may define here as Europe in the period from roughly 1300 to 1800) began, for the first time in large numbers, to investigate more of the preindustrial European population than the 2 or 3 percent who comprised the political and social elite:the kings,generals, judges, nobles, bishops, and local magnates who had hitherto usually filled history books.

In the sentence above, what I do not understand is the part "to investigate more of the preindustrial European population than the 2 or 3 percent who comprised the political and social elite"; specifically, how to comprehend the "more of... than"?

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    Think of it as “more than” instead of “more of than.”
    – Xanne
    Jun 10, 2020 at 4:59
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    It's "preindustrial", not "prehistoric".
    – Hot Licks
    Nov 9, 2020 at 3:42
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    Traditionally historians only concerned themselves with the actions of "important people" being mostly people with wealth and power. The only "ordinary people" who entered history were those who became famous or infamous in some way. Wat Tyler, George Fox and Michael Faraday are examples. In the 1950s historians began to expand their area of interest to include the lives of "ordinary people". In other words they started to study more members of the population than the small elite they had previously focused on.
    – BoldBen
    Dec 4, 2021 at 9:59

1 Answer 1

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More here is a fused determiner head - the noun it determines has been left out, and in this case has to be inferred, not taken directly from context. This is because the than... part of the comparative construction has percent as the term being compared, which is incompatible with more:

*more percent of... than the 2 or 3 percent who comprised...

So we have to interpret it something like:

a greater percentage of... than the 2 or 3 percent who comprised...

It could be reworded as:

...to investigate a percentage of the preindustrial European population greater than the 2 or 3 percent who comprised the political and social elite...

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  • why "*more percent of..." is not acceptable ? I think noun can follow "more" Nov 9, 2020 at 13:23
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    Given the context, this could also be paraphrased as "more people in preindustrial Europe than the 2 or 3 percent...". // Why is "more percent" unacceptable? "Percent is not a noun.
    – Rosie F
    Aug 6, 2021 at 7:01

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