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The whole sentence is:

Instead of handing down text-based documents from product managers to architects to design engineers to test engineers, and so forth, all of the people involved in the development process can access the data they need transparently. (System engineering for dummies)

Does it mean "pass documents from manager to architects, and then from architects to engineers, and then from engineer to test engineers" OR it just mean "pass document from manager to everybody else"?

  • Yeah, that's exactly what it means, I got to this conclusion after reading "text-based documents", it leads me to think that there is another option instead of passing the documents from product managers to architect and so forth.. Which is exactly what the statement means. Your deduction is right. – Davyd Jan 7 '17 at 17:51
  • @DavydDiniz so it mean "pass document from manager to everybody else"? – aryndin Jan 7 '17 at 18:24
  • In the sentence, the writer specified who to pass the documents to: from product managers to architects (the product managers will pass the documents to the archictets), from design engineers to test engineers (the design engineers will pass the documents to the test engineers), and so forth means: ahead, it means there are others areas which the writter didn't want to mention, probably because it would take more time or just because everyone would have understood just by that. – Davyd Jan 7 '17 at 18:28
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    To pass from one to the other in a line. Like a chain. – Lambie Jan 7 '17 at 18:36
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    @DavydDiniz Please do it anyway. Please use comments to ask for clarification etc. not to write answers. – James K Jan 8 '17 at 0:16
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Does it mean "pass documents from manager to architects, and then from architects to engineers, and then from engineer to test engineers" OR it just mean "pass document from manager to everybody else"?

The former. "From A to B to C to D", with no commas, means "from A to B, from B to C, and from C to D", i.e. A → B → C → D.

But interestingly, the same sentence would become ambiguous if there were commas, because then there would be two possible structures that it could fit into:

  • "from A to B, to C, to D, to E" would mean the same as "from A to B to C to D to E", i.e. A → B → C → D → E.
    • the "and so forth" can fit in the "to E" slot.
  • "from A to B, to C, to D, and to E" would mean "from A to B, from A to C, from A to D, and from A to E", i.e. A → { B, C, D, E }.
    • the "and so forth" can fit in the "and to E" slot.

Without the commas, only the first structure is possible, because lists of the form "X, Y, and Z" require commas.

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