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In the passage below, is "central" an adjective for 'country', or not?

There was discovered a peddler's tin box as well as the bones, and this box is now preserved at Lilydale, the central country head-quarters of the American Spiritualists, to which also the old Hydesville house has been transported.

Source

Does "the central country head-quarters" mean 'the central headquarters of America'?

2 Answers 2

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This use is actually a little ambiguous. "the central country head-quarters" could mean either "the central headquarters of the country" or it could mean "the headquarters of the central country".

However, in English, it is more common when talking about a country to use the name of the country itself, rather than just saying "the country", so if it was talking about the "central headquarters" for the whole country I would expect it to say something more like "central American head-quarters" or "central U.S. head-quarters" instead, so my guess in this case is that it may actually mean that it's the headquarters for the "central country", that is the middle part of the U.S.

On the other hand, I note that the source was written some time ago (by Arthur Conan Doyle), so the conventions may have been different back then, I'm not sure. In which case, my guess may be entirely wrong.

So it really isn't entirely clear, and the only way to be sure is probably to find some more information somewhere about what sort of "head-quarters" Lilydale actually was to the American Spiritualists at that time.

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There are a number of options hear. First let us clarify that Lilydale seems to be the main headquarters of the spiritualist churches in the USA according to its Wikipedia article.

the central country head-quarters

This could mean that both central and country are modifying head-quarters so it means the central head-quarters which are located in the country. From the Wikipedia article that statement would appear to be true. Alternatively it could mean that it was the national head-quarters, the most important one in the country. That uses central in the sense of important. From the Wikipedia article that statement too appears to be true.

As @Foogood mentions in their answer it seems unlikely to mean head-quarters for the central region of the USA as it would be more natural to replace country with its name if that was intended.

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