2

The wisdom of men and the beauty of women living in this country are both remarkable.

Can "living in this country" modify "men" in this sentence? I believe "living in this country" could modify the noun or noun phrase before it. So in this sentence, the nouns (noun phrases) modified by "living in this country" are only 3 possibilities:

  1. [(women)(living in this country)]
  2. [(the beauty of women)(living in this country)]
  3. [(The wisdom of men and the beauty of women)(living in this country)]

For 1, it only modifies "women", while 2 and 3 apparently make no sense.
To allow "living in this country" modify both "men" and "women", I think the original sentence should be seen as an omitting version of

The wisdom of men (living in this country) and the beauty of women living in this country are both remarkable.

Is my explanation reasonable or not?

13
  • Punctuation is the key to your problem. Jun 14, 2023 at 14:55
  • @MichaelHarvey Sorry, but I don't get your points well.
    – shepherd
    Jun 14, 2023 at 14:56
  • 2
    Both implies that two things are being called remarkable. Common sense suggests that it doesn't mean 'the wisdom of men in general'. Jun 14, 2023 at 15:29
  • I don't understand why you say 2 and 3 "make no sense." I agree it's confusing, but not nonsensical Jun 14, 2023 at 16:21
  • 1
    reminds me of Lake Wobegon, “where all the women are strong, all the men are good-looking, and all the children are above average.”
    – Brian D
    Jun 14, 2023 at 21:03

1 Answer 1

1

Your explanation is reasonable

The sentence isn't a great sentence, but it would be one I believe commonly used here in the western United States. To make the sentence grammatically "perfect" (if such a word can ever be applied to grammar) we need to add a few things.

The wisdom of the men who live in this country and the beauty of the women who live in this country are both remarkable.

Language, especially spoken language, tends to shorten obvious contextual associations. Wisdom can't live in a country. Neither can beauty. Thus "living in this country" can contextually only modify the words "men" and "women." Therefore, for this case, I would expect people to simplify the redundant use of "the [object] who live in this country" by using it only once and dropping the words "the" and "who" (the men who -> men, the women who -> women).

The wisdom of men and the beauty of women living in this country are both remarkable.

2
  • why not: This country's wise men and beautiful women are both remarkable.
    – Brian D
    Jun 14, 2023 at 21:05
  • @BrianD That would work fine! My answer simply focused on the OP's original sentence structure to help the OP understand what that structure was doing. I mentioned that the original sentence structure "isn't a great sentence." Your version is absolutely more elegant.
    – JBH
    Jun 15, 2023 at 6:43

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