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Before me is a grassy green field. A line of trees marks its far edge, which is punctuated by a spruce on its left side and a maple on its right.

Here the author is saying that there is a grassy green field before him. And he sees trees that seem to be placed in a line and that line of trees is at the horizon.

But I don't understand how the spruce and maple are placed in that line.

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    No, it's not clear to me. It might mean that the line of trees stretches from a spruce at the left hand end to a mapel at the right hand end: I think that is the most likely interpretation (and seems to be using "punctuated" to mean "have as the end points", which is not a natural interpretation of that word to me).
    – Colin Fine
    Mar 6, 2023 at 16:17
  • @ColinFine That's what I thought as well. Thanks though. Mar 6, 2023 at 18:07
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    The line of trees is at the farthest edge of the field (not the horizon) and the line contains a spruce at or near the left end and a maple at or near the right end. The text, which you should have attributed, is from the introduction to Robert Audi's Epistemology. Audi is O'Brien Professor of Philosophy at the University of Notre Dame, Indiana, USA. Mar 6, 2023 at 21:32

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It is a slightly unusual use of the word 'punctuated', but there's only really one way that this could be understood. The far edge of the field (the edge furthest away from the perspective of the author as they look at the field before them) has a line of trees running along it. The variety of the trees is unspecified except that the furthest left is a spruce and the furthest right is a maple.

'Punctuated', in this kind of a context, usually means that a sequence is interrupted, or broken up by something. By that definition, you might expect the spruce and maple to appear somewhere in the middle of the line of trees, but that would more likely be phrased this way:

A line of trees marks its far edge, which is punctuated by a spruce and a maple.

However, your text says "a spruce on its left side and a maple on its right". The pronoun can only refer to "the line of trees", and the left and right of a line can only mean the ends.

There are other definitions of 'punctuate' that could apply:

  • to give emphasis to
  • to mark the beginning and end (of text)

This is still a slightly unusual use of the word in context. A better word would be 'flanked', for example:

A line of trees marks its far edge, flanked by a spruce on its left side and a maple on its right.

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