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Would you please give me some examples with the pattern below, in such a way that I could understand what the bold part means? I couldn't find such a pattern in dictionaries.

This is the pattern:

Japan is less a country than a network of linked Mega-regions, anchored by Tokyo.

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Less can mean *to a smaller extent" or "not so much."

Joe is not so much a man as (he is) a mouse.

Joe is less a man than (he is) a mouse.

Joe is a man, but he can be thought of as a mouse. That is, he is shy, timid, and quiet, like a mouse.

Japan is not so much a country as (it is) a network of linked Mega-regions.

Japan is less a country than (it is) a network of linked Mega-regions.

Japan is a country, but it can be thought of as a network of linked Mega-regions.

To use the complete sentence:

Japan is a country, but it can be thought of as a network of linked Mega-regions, anchored by Tokyo.

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X is less a this than a that.

The idea is that X can be considered a this, and is usually regarded as a this, but when you think more deeply about X, you realize that it would be more accurate to say it is a that.

  • So, have I correctly got what you have just taught me? Japan is a network of linked Mega-regions, not a country – nima Oct 8 '14 at 15:22
  • No, not quite. The locution means that it is more accurate to call X that than to call it this. This is not an inaccurate description; it's just not as good a description as that. – Tᴚoɯɐuo Oct 8 '14 at 19:11

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