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Does pending within:

Apartheid legislation was repealed on 17 June 1991, pending fully democratic, multiracial elections set for April 1994.

mean until? If so, shouldn't the sentence be:

Apartheid legislation was repealed on 17 June 1991, pending fully democratic, multiracial elections were set for April 1994.

Source: Please refer to the last sentence of the 6th paragraph from this Wikipedia article. The full context is:

Between 1987 and 1993, the National Party entered into bilateral negotiations with the African National Congress, the leading anti-apartheid political movement, for ending segregation and introducing majority rule. In 1990, prominent ANC figures such as Nelson Mandela were released from prison. Apartheid legislation was repealed on 17 June 1991, pending fully democratic, multiracial elections set for April 1994.

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    pending: Awaiting decision or settlement; Until (something) happens.
    – Andrew
    Jun 5, 2019 at 1:08
  • @Andrew I've actually checked the adjectival definition too, but wasn't, and still, really able to cast it within this context. I don't quite understand the relationship between the clause before pending and the one after it.
    – Norbert
    Jun 5, 2019 at 2:12

1 Answer 1

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In this context, "pending" means more something like "waiting for". Let's break the sentence down a bit:

Apartheid legislation was repealed on 17 June 1991, pending fully democratic, multiracial elections set for April 1994.

The first part is clear enough: "Apartheid legislation was repealed on 17 June 1991". That date is when the decision was finalized to end the apartheid legislation.

Then, we have "pending fully democratic, multiracial elections". This means that even though the decision was on June 17 '91, it didn't really take full effect until there were fully democratic, multiracial elections.

Then the third part - "set for April 1994" - is simply telling us when those elections were scheduled for.

We could rephrase the sentence like this:

Apartheid legislation was officially repealed on 17 June 1991, waiting for the fully democratic, multiracial elections that were set to be held in April 1994 for the decision to take full effect.

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  • Thank you, there is just one small thing I still couldn't comprehend, what was happening during the "waiting process"?, the use of pending should indicate some action was happening during a certain interval of time prior to the event mentioned right after pending, meaning: pending some event, some other event was happening before. Here, in our case, we have one action that had happened as quickly as one day, which is quite small compared to the time span between June 1991 and April 1994, it wasn't prolonged or am I missing something?
    – Norbert
    Jun 5, 2019 at 11:33
  • @Norbert - I assume that April '94 was simply when the next elections were set, so that's when the new laws would fully go into effect (and, for instance, allow people of different skin colors to run for office).
    – Mithical
    Jun 5, 2019 at 11:38
  • pending here plays the role of a preposition, otherwise (an adjective) the sentence pending fully democratic, multiracial elections set for April 1994. wouldn't make much sense on its own because of the comma that sets it off from Apartheid legislation was officially repealed on 17 June 1991.The OED lists until there is as a synonym for pending, using it to reword the sentence one would obtain "Until there was a fully democratic, multiracial elections set for..., Apartheid legislation was officially repealed on... " .
    – Norbert
    Jun 5, 2019 at 12:09
  • ...which is meaningless.
    – Norbert
    Jun 5, 2019 at 12:11

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