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I read this line in a book:

"The general elevation of the Deccan plateau is from the West to East, which is proved by the pattern of the flow of the rivers, which flow from West to East."

Shouldn't the elevation be East to West, as elevation means increase in height? Please correct me if I'm wrong.

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  • Wikipedia says "The eastern Deccan Plateau is at a lower elevation spanning the southeastern coast of India." Aug 9, 2018 at 13:30
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    What book? The expression "the elevation is from west to east" doesn't make much sense to me.
    – James K
    Aug 9, 2018 at 13:33
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    "elevation means increase in height" - no, as a noun it just means "height". An "elevator" will take you down as well as up. Aug 9, 2018 at 13:47
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    The writer obviously intended the clause 'The general elevation of the Deccan plateau is from the West to East,' to mean that the plateau is most elevated in the West and least elevated in the East, otherwise the remainder of their sentence, intended as a proof of the main clause, would be illogical. However, I think they could have used a less ambiguous clause to convey that thought.
    – James
    Aug 9, 2018 at 14:10
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    @James agreed. Like "The Deccan plateau slopes down from the West to the East..."
    – John Feltz
    Aug 9, 2018 at 18:09

1 Answer 1

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It is simply a rather badly expressed sentence.

Normally "elevation" just means "height". We might say "The plateau has an elevation of 500m".

We wouldn't say "the general elevation is from the west to the east". Clearly what the author wanted to express was "The land generally slopes down from the west to the east."

This use of elevation may have a particular meaning in Indian English, or it may just be a badly written sentence. It is possible the author intended to write "The general elevation is [between 500 and 1000m and the land slopes down] from the west to the east" but the part in brackets was edited out for some reason.

Similar ambiguity appears later:

The general elevation of the Central Highlands ranges between 700-1,000 m above the mean sea level and it slopes towards the north and northeastern directions.

It is not clear if the land slopes down, or up, toward the north.

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