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​ 1. Does "a reply of sorts" equal "a sort/kind of reply?" Can we say "a reply of kinds" as well?
​ 2. The context below is an extract from the book The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro. Is the text kind of complicated? Looks like the character is using a special style of talking.

This was not the first time my employer had raised such a question; indeed, it seems to be something which genuinely troubles him. On this occasion, in fact, a reply of sorts did occur to me as I stood up there on the ladder; a reply to the effect that those of our profession, although we did not see a great deal of the country in the sense of touring the countryside and visiting picturesque sites, did actually "see" more of England than most, placed as we were in houses where the greatest ladies and gentlemen of the land gathered.
—The Remains of the Day, written by Kazuo Ishiguro.
(A longer excerpt of this extract can be found online here.)

​ 3. What does "in the sense of" mean? Can you rephrase it for me?
​ 4. Is there an inversion in "placed as we were"? I think is means as/since we were placed in...Is this inversion common? Are there any rules to understand them?

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    in the sense of touring → "the way a tourist might [see]* – Jim Jan 16 '14 at 2:52
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    I can count 8 questions in this question, and because I cannot answer all of them (and not to mention that it doesn't comply to our guideline), I couldn't provide you a good answer. However, of sorts means "used to describe something that is not a typical or good example of something". – Damkerng T. Jan 16 '14 at 13:05
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  1. "a reply of sorts" means that although it could be classified (sorted) as a reply, it would have been an inferior one. Kind could not be substituted.

  2. It is a more formal writing style, yes.

  3. It means that although they did see the countryside, it wasn't in the same way that someone "touring the countryside and visiting picturesque sites. . ." would have. So in a (the literal) sense they did see the countryside, but in the (generally accepted) sense, they did not.

  4. "having been placed" would be a possible substitute.

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