1

The complete sentence:

Yet I should point out before I proceed with this line that when I use ‘ideology,’ I do not mean to imply the now-familiar sinister connotations of mischief or falsehood attached to the term; rather, I see Scott’s ideology simply as a mindset or a belief system which was true to him, and he to it.

Please give me some guidance on this part of the phrase; it sounds terribly off.

. . . a belief system which was true to him, and he to it.

I mean to say that:

a) the so-called mindset was true "to him" (meaning true as he perceives the world) And also b) he is "true to his (same) mindset" (as in he stays true to it)

Also what do you think of the preposition "to" in

the now-familiar sinister connotations of mischief or falsehood attached to the term The complete sentence

  • 1
    Actually, I like the play on the double meaning of being true (containing truth vs. being loyal). I guess this is a zeugma. It works, I understand it, and appreciate the " word play". The preposition to seems fine, and the whole sentence gives me very little trouble - it looks fine to me. – oerkelens Jul 29 '14 at 16:36
  • "which" is fine but "that" sounds better to me. ". . . a belief system that was true to him, and he to it." – user3169 Jul 29 '14 at 17:15
  • @oerkelens: Each to their own. Personally I think the overloading of true there comes across as rather clumsy. That sort of "zeugma" is usually either accidental, or done blatantly for comic effect. In OP's context, comic effect seems misplaced, so I'm left supposing it's either accidental (unlikely) or "misguided". It's also rather trite - who ever espoused a mindset/belief system so wholeheartedly that it could be called their "ideology" if they didn't think it was "true"? – FumbleFingers Jul 29 '14 at 21:05
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There's one thing missing — an em-dash.

Em-dash is used specifically in place of omitted text, to introduce a small pause and designate the omission.

...a belief system which was true to him, and he — to it.

Reads differently, doesn't it? No longer does it look like a piece got lost somewhere, like some weird grammar. The em-dash marks the omission, clarifies the sense and breaks the flow, so that in speech (or verbalized reading) this sounds natural.

Now, what it means:

...a belief system which was true to him, and he [was true] to it.

It means:

— He believed that the belief system was true (as in not containing falsehoods)
— He acted "true to the system," that is, adhered to its rules - didn't try to game it.

Now, while the above might seem trivial to you, let me give you some examples where the two are not true:

  • Most of higher-ups of the Party in Soviet Union believed Communism to be true.They believed the system would conquer the world and the inferior Capitalism would fall. Still, they'd take more than their fair share of the goods, owning good cars, good houses, being able to buy goods in shops not available to the citizen - in effect, they were not true to the system which was true to them.
  • A priest who lost faith, may hide the fact. The salary is good, the job is secure, he doesn't know any other jobs, and is afraid to leave the comfortable life. He doesn't believe in God anymore - the system is not true to him. But he still performs burials, weddings, masses, teaching others about God against his own belief; he is true to the system, despite the system not being true to him.

Now as for your other question, you attach things to other things. That's the most common preposition used with "attach", nothing weird here.

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There is nothing 'off' about this sentence - in fact it's masterful.

To address your questions:

(1) a meaning or connotation or stigma is commonly (and idiomatically) "attached TO" something.

(2) your assessment of the play on words with TRUE TO was correct and very well explained: in his mind it was true, and he in turn stayed true to it.

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