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According to Cambridge dictionary, assert as a verb means:

1- to say that something is certainly true.

2- to do something to show that you have power.

However, assert in neither meaning match the following text:

Furthermore, most reenactors assert an educational import to the performance, and to develop their roles many pursue archival research with a rare dedication.

What does assert mean here?

  • It's your definition 1. They make a claim that there is an educational value to the reenactments, that it isn't just running around in costumes and playing or entertaining. – fixer1234 May 7 '17 at 4:58
  • @fixer1234, Thank you very much. However, still, something looks wrong. Do you believe that here, import is a synonym to value? – Stephen May 7 '17 at 6:59
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    "Import" means importance. What I wrote in the comment would have been clearer if I hadn't paraphrased. They assert (state) that the performance has an educational importance. – fixer1234 May 7 '17 at 7:05
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    I'd characterize it as standard English, but not wording someone would use in casual conversation. It would be more typical of writing by someone who is trying to sound scholarly and like they have a large vocabulary. :-) – fixer1234 May 7 '17 at 9:22
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    "Import" could mean "importance", "significance", "value", "quality", "aspect". The syntax of this sentence is indeed awkward. You would "assert that there is an educational import to the performance". One can generally only assert (1) a noun phrase representing a fact, opinion, or belief or (2) "that" + a verb phrase. Here they are asserting a noun phrase but it's not of the right category, so they should be asserting a verb phrase. – Luke Sawczak Jun 16 '17 at 13:50
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You obviously have not seen all the meaning that this word can have. Assert's main meaning is actually to state a fact or belief confidently and forcefully. And that's exactly your case here.

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    They stated(or claimed) an educational import to the performance? What does it mean? – Stephen May 7 '17 at 5:36
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Assert can mean something like "X does something with the intent of having a persistent or lasting effect, i.e. impose/influence/modify" with at least a subtle implication that X is also trying to communicate to others that X is able to do that, or doesn't mind if others know that X is influencing or modifying things.

Furthermore, most reenactors assert an educational import to the performance, and to develop their roles many pursue archival research with a rare dedication.

This implies that the performance is not being advertised as educational, but the reenactors are trying to introduce educational aspects or other things into the performance, and that they are not trying to hide the fact that they are being educational.

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