1

The Swedish Crown brought in a law which required at least half the mayors and councillors to be nativeborn, but there is every indication that this law was ignored. However, the councils looked after the interests of the merchants and guaranteed that they would adhere to their contracts. (bolds by me)

  • A history of Finland by Henrik Meinander
  1. What does the "they" refer to in the sentence? To councils or to merchants? And how do you decide that matter in sentences like this?
  2. These two sentences comes back to back in the book. I can not understand why the author used the word "however" in the second one. Because it does not have any interpretation that negates to former one.
9
  • 2
    The actual words are ambiguous. Native Anglophones are no better equipped than you to decide whether the councils are guaranteeing that they the councils will adhere to "their" contracts, or that the merchants will adhere to the contracts. Come to that, it's ambiguous whether those are the council's contracts or the merchants contracts (if one can meaningfully distinguish those two possibilities). It's even possible that they refers to one party, and their refers to the other (the council will force merchants to abide by contracts entered into by those merchants). Commented Aug 18, 2022 at 15:54
  • I won't closevote the question, even though it's basically POB. But I will downvote any answer that tries to assign a specific referent to they or their in the cited context. I see no meaningful answer other than "It's ambiguous", but I can't see the point in posting that as an Answer. Commented Aug 18, 2022 at 16:00
  • For me, "the councils looked after the interests of the merchants and [the councils] guaranteed that they [the councils] would adhere to their contracts" also refers to the councils. Because the councils looked after the interests of the merchants and [the councils] guaranteed that the merchants would adhere to their contracts. would not make much sense. The councils, presumably, have no way to guarantee the merchants would adhere to contracts. However, the councils could guarantee that they the councils would adhere to their own contracts with merchants.
    – Lambie
    Commented Aug 18, 2022 at 16:04
  • 2
    The point of the forum is to help people learn English. Actually deciding what "they" and "their" refer to here isn't really part of knowing English - it's just a matter of deciding which interpretations make most sense. I haven't looked at it that closely, but I assume the contracts being referred to here are between the councils and the merchants, so it's not really meaningful to ask whether "their" contracts refers to either party in particular. But you must decide yourself whether the councils are making promises about their own behaviour, or what they will force the merchants to do. Commented Aug 18, 2022 at 16:19
  • 1
    You should contact the author and ask him to explain. Rather than us.
    – Lambie
    Commented Aug 18, 2022 at 16:37

1 Answer 1

0

"The Swedish Crown brought in a law which required at least half the mayors and councillors to be nativeborn, but there is every indication that this law was ignored. However, the councils looked after the interests of the merchants and guaranteed that they would adhere to their contracts."

The point is that the law ("which required at least half the mayors and councillors to be nativeborn") was being ignored. However, some councils, which favored the merchants, were ready to stand by some current contracts anyway.

Unfortunately, this quote doesn't give us a clear link between the contracts and the afore-mentioned law nor between "the councils" and the other parties. If the original quote included these links, I think the passage would be clearer.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .