There is one sentence like: We know little about the constant reconfiguration of the coastline. Does this statement mean that coastline changes periodically or it doesn't change periodically?

I guess that reconfiguring something means changing something to different form. And the context of the paragraph from where this statement has been taken suggest to me that reconfiguration happens quite periodically.

Please refer Q-18 of reading section of the IELTS practice test Vol.2 https://ieltsonlinetests.com/4429534/result/ielts-recent-actual-test-answers-vol-2-reading-practice-test-2

  • yes, it is "always changing". – Frank Thomas Jun 12 '19 at 4:01
  • Also note, Constant and Periodic could be considered contradictory. Constant means always, and Periodic means occasionally, or on a schedule (where the Period is the time between occurrences). merriam-webster.com/dictionary/periodic merriam-webster.com/dictionary/constant (#3). – Frank Thomas Jun 12 '19 at 6:04
  • @FrankThomas "The rate of change is a constant." Constant doesn't mean always; it means steady or invariable. (Nor does periodic mean occasionally; it means cyclically or repeatedly.) – Jason Bassford Jun 12 '19 at 17:35
  • So @Frank Thomas, does it mean that coastline is changing very frequently and not periodically? – Vaibhav Sharma Jun 12 '19 at 17:38
  • @VaibhavSharma, that is correct. it changes very frequently. – Frank Thomas Jun 12 '19 at 18:36

This sentence means that the reconfiguration of the coastline is constant, and we know little about it.

In this context, "constant" means happening continuously, constantly, all the time.

As already commented, "periodically" means something that is happening occasionally or on a regular interval. This is different to "constantly" which means all the time, always.

This is probably the source of the sentence fragment: https://www.ielts-mentor.com/reading-sample/academic-reading/2730-coastal-archaeology-of-britain

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  • Yes @halfnuts, you are right about the source of the sentence. Anyways, thanks for your answer. It has cleared my doubt further. – Vaibhav Sharma Jun 19 '19 at 6:35

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