Our native tongue should either not be studied critically at all, or be studied as thoroughly as the languages of antiquity.

Reading this, I found it confusing what it does mean. I understand for now it means that our native tongue is not studied critically at all, or that is studied like the languages of antiquity. Is my understanding right or wrong? Please teach me the correct meaning of the sentence. Thank you.

  • It's not about what IS happening (in terms of studying language). It's about what the writer thinks SHOULD BE happening. Dec 15, 2020 at 18:25
  • The words 'critically' and 'at all' do not work together. I think you can drop one of them and preserve your meaning.
    – EllieK
    Dec 15, 2020 at 21:58

1 Answer 1


This sentence means the following:

  • if we are going to study our native language, then we should study it as thoroughly as the languages of antiquity are studied.

  • otherwise, we should not study our native language at all.

The implication is that languages like Latin, Greek and Sanskrit have been studied in great detail, to a high scholarly standard. If we are not prepared to treat the study of English (for example) with the same rigour, then we should not study it at all.

I can imagine various contexts for this sentence. One would be comparing university students of English with university students of Latin, and claiming that the typical English student is lazier, less intelligent, less diligent, etc.

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