2

Source: http://news.yahoo.com/shaky-start-ukraine-turns-eastern-offensive-around-224521910.html

Analysts say the dramatic turnaround is down to a combination of growing professionalism and ruthlessness from Kiev's forces on the one hand and the shifting nature of the support that Russia is giving the rebels.

How do you understand that expression?

3

This expression does not sound natural to my (American) ear. Instead of:

Analysts say the dramatic turnaround is down to a combination of growing professionalism and ruthlessness from Kiev's forces on the one hand and the shifting nature of the support that Russia is giving the rebels.

I would expect either:

Analysts say the dramatic turnaround is due to a combination of growing professionalism and ruthlessness from Kiev's forces on the one hand and the shifting nature of the support that Russia is giving the rebels.

or

Analysts put the dramatic turnaround down to a combination of growing professionalism and ruthlessness from Kiev's forces on the one hand and the shifting nature of the support that Russia is giving the rebels.

All three quotes mean the same thing. In the last example, "<subject> put <phenomenon> down to <cause(s)>" means "<subject> attributed <phenomenon> to <cause(s)>". My mental picture is of an observer (such as a desk guard or a journalist) who is responsible for logging activity "writing down" in their log an observed cause and an observed effect. My mental picture leaves some doubt as to whether the observer is sure about the cause-and-effect relationship.

Note that none of these examples are using the slang phrase "<subject> is down with that", which is much more common. The slang phrase currently means either "<subject> thinks that is OK" or "<subject> strongly likes that". It used to mean "<subject> is unable to work, because they have that (illness)".

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.