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Gone With Wind

To this end, Ellen and Mammy bent their efforts, and as Scarlett grew older she became an apt pupil in this subject, even though she learned little else.

My understanding

She did excellent in this subject, but she rarely studied others, so she had lots of time to focus on this subject, hence it made her success in this subject less impressive.

The Chinese version of this book

She not only did excellent in this subject, but also she learned a little other things.

Which is correct?

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I would say your second interpretation comes little bit closer than the first to the meaning of the original quote, but it's still not 100% accurate.

MacMillan dictionary says "an apt pupil" is "good at learning", so I would say she did "well", not necessarily "excellent".

Also, the extra analysis you give in your first sentence (about how her success was less impressive because she had lots of time to spend on the one subject) is not mentioned in the original quoted sentence.

Thirdly, the expression in your second interpretation, "she learned a little other things" isn't really idiomatic in English, so I'm not certain exactly what you mean by it. When the original sentence says, "she learned little else", it isn't telling us proudly that she learned some other extra things as well. The emphasis is on little. In other words "she learned almost nothing else."

So, including the beginning part of the quote in brackets, I think the meaning of that sentence is:

[Because Ellen and Mammy worked toward that goal, as Scarlett got older ...] she did well in this subject, but she did not learn very many other things.

  • Your provided meaning is exactly what I meant, but my expression is not good. So, the translation of the book is wrong. – Zhang Apr 11 at 4:20
  • It isn't clear to me which statements are from the book translation, and what language they were originally written in, but your 1st expresstion, "She did excellent in this subject, but she rarely ....... success in this subject less impressive." sounds like idiomatic English. The other one, "She not only did excellent in this subject, but also she learned a little other things." is not right because we don't use "a little" with countable nouns, and it sounds like the additional learning is being praised and celebrated, when actually it is being denied. – Lorel C. Apr 11 at 15:05

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