2

In modern industrial societies the great mass of property consists, as the annual review of wealth passing at death reveals, neither of personal acquisitions such as household furniture, nor of the owner's stock-in-trade, but of rights of various kinds, such as royalties, ground-rents, and, above all, of course shares in industrial undertakings which yield an income irrespective of any personal service rendered by their owners. Ownership and use are normally divorced. The greater part of modern property has been attenuated to a pecuniary lien or bond on the product of industry [1.] which carries with [2.] it a right to payment, but [3.] which is normally valued precisely because it relieves the owner from any obligation to perform a positive or constructive function.

Source: On Property (1920), by R. H. Tawney

Would someone please identify the antecedents for the pronouns [1.] thru [3.]? The 3 nouns in front of [1.] confuse me so much as to thwart my attempts. Please explain and show all steps and thought processes; I’d like to try to resolve this myself in the future?

  • 2
    [1] and [2] share the same identical antecedent: "a pecuniary lien or bond". The antecedent to [3] is actually set up within [2]: "a right to...". I know you'd rather me post an answer, and give my reasoning behind this conclusion, but since I can't do the former (give my reasoning), I shouldn't do the latter (post this as an answer). In other words, because I'm a native speaker, who yet has no real (formal) training in grammar, I find the conclusion obvious and incontestable but unjustifiable. – Dan Bron Oct 30 '14 at 10:25
  • @DanBron +1. Thank you effusively for your continual care. – Greek - Area 51 Proposal Nov 20 '14 at 8:16
1

Dan Bron has correctly identified the antecedent to which and which.

But let's figure out why you have the problem you describe:

Would someone please identify the antecedents for the pronouns [1.] thru [3.]? The 3 nouns in front of [1.] confuse me so much as to thwart my attempts. Please explain and show all steps and thought processes; I’d like to try to resolve this myself in the future?

The three nouns (there are actually four) are lien, bond, product, industry.

The relative clauses are

...which carries with it a right to payment

...which is normally valued precisely because it relieves the owner from any obligation to perform a positive or constructive function.

Let's clear the cobwebs away.

"Carries with it" = "Carries with itself" = "bears"

Does a lien or bond carry with it a right to payment? Yes. Is a lien or bond valued precisely because the owner is not obliged to perform any sort of work in order to receive that value? Yes.

Does a product carry with it a right to payment? No. Products have no rights, and owning a product entitles the owner to nothing more than the product. Is a product valued precisely because its owner is not obliged to perform any sort of work? No. A product's value is a function of supply and demand. A product's value has nothing to do with work performed by the owner of the product.

Does industry carry with it a right to payment? Hmmmm..... What does the word industry mean as it is used in the passage? A clue can be found in the phrase "...shares in industrial undertakings". If you answer the question about which meaning of industry is in effect, you should be able to understand the passage and resolve the problem for yourself.

  • Thank you! To confirm, industry means Economic activity concerned with the processing of raw materials and manufacture of goods in factories right, so defn 1 at oxforddictionaries.com/definition/english/industry? But defn 2 (Hard work) sounds right if Tawney intended a figurative meaning? – Greek - Area 51 Proposal Nov 20 '14 at 8:15
  • Will you please to respond in your answer, and not as a comment? – Greek - Area 51 Proposal Nov 20 '14 at 8:16
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    No, sorry, I won't do that. I'll leave you to puzzle out whether Tawney is speaking figuratively here, or if he is speaking about stocks and bonds. – Tᴚoɯɐuo Nov 20 '14 at 11:47

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