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THE SOURCE: NEW YORK TIMES

  • “Some of those who try and ban our customs are in essence trying to make Europe more uncomfortable for Jews, because the essence and centrality of our life are our ancient traditions, and if our customs are not welcome nor are our communities,” Moshe Kantor, the president of the European Jewish Con- gress, wrote in a statement to The New York Times.

Here, in this context, if doesn’t work conditionally.

So how it works here, what meaning is it trying to express, especially with “nor”?

2 Answers 2

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It's not perfectly idiomatic, to my AmE ear. One would expect neither instead of nor. "If" there can be understood as "when [the following condition is true]".

It is like a when...then construction.

If you don't like our customs, [then] you don't like us either.

If you don't like our customs, [then] neither do you like us.

If you don't like our customs, [then] nor do you like us. marginal, to my ear

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  • I don’t know why, sometimes, they don’t put punctuation like you did “, nor” to make the writing more distinct for the reader! Jan 12, 2018 at 12:46
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    A comma does help to set off the condition from the conclusion. But the punctuation here is discretionary —a native speaker would recognize the clause pattern without it.
    – TimR
    Jan 12, 2018 at 12:48
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This isn't a common usage of "nor" but by Definition of nor in US English in Oxford "nor" can be used before the second or further of two or more alternatives (the first being introduced by a negative such as “neither” or “not”) to indicate that they are each untrue or each do not happen.

If our customs are not welcome, nor are our communities (mind the comma usage)

When the "if-clause" is true for "our customs are not welcome" the "nor-clause" - "neither are our communities welcome" is true too.

This is simply an interconnection between a condition and an outcome. If a condition is met an outcome exists else it doesn't. From the point of view of logic you can view it as:

  • If (customs are not welcome) then (communities are not welcome too).

The condition here is "customs aren't welcome" and the outcome is "communities aren't welcome".

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  • But where is the negative that introduces the first alternative? Compare Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds. or We have neither the time nor the money to take a month-long vacation in Tahiti.
    – TimR
    Jan 12, 2018 at 13:39
  • @Tᴚoɯɐuo With respect to you, I believe that "are not" is the first negative. Consider this: "The jacket is not clean, nor is the shirt." - "If the jacket is not clean, nor is the shirt". And with "If..so": "The shirt is clean, so is the jacket." - "If the shirt is clean, so it the jacket". Jan 12, 2018 at 13:51
  • I don't think the usage requires that the first alternative be introduced by a negative. I'm questioning Oxford here. Neither the jacket nor the shirt is clean. There, the alternative is introduced by the negative. But maybe they mean something other than "introduced", simply "negated".
    – TimR
    Jan 12, 2018 at 13:59
  • @Tᴚoɯɐuo I'd be glad to know an alternative to your way of thinking. How else do you suppose to introduce "nor" in such case? "If the FBI can't catch him, nor can the Police." - how can you rephrase it? - "If the FBI can't catch him, the Police can't too." Jan 12, 2018 at 14:05
  • ...the police can't either ... or ...neither can the police... as I give in my answer. That is contemporary idiomatic speech (AmE speech at least).
    – TimR
    Jan 12, 2018 at 14:06

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