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By the time of the Beowulf poet, Anglo-Saxon society in England was neither primitive nor uncultured.

Which of the sentences below best express the information in the statement?

  1. Society in Anglo-Saxon England both was advanced and cultured.

  2. The society of the Anglo-Saxon was not primitive or cultured.

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  • It was neither primitive, nor was it uncultured. Be careful, something that is not primitive is not necessarily advanced. Just like something not good doesn't mean it's bad. – Damkerng T. Dec 14 '14 at 23:07
  • @DamkerngT. Thank you for your answer.I had the same mentality as I answered the question, which is from Barron's English exam CD.But the cd says the answer is 1. – Mrt Dec 14 '14 at 23:30
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    "It was neither primitive nor uncultured" is about the same thing as "It was not primitive or uncultured" (note: not "or cultured"), so given the two choices, 1 is better. Though I don't think that 1 is a good way to phrase the idea based on just one original sentence. – Damkerng T. Dec 14 '14 at 23:33
  • Does the sentence "The society of the Anglo-Saxon was not pritimitive or cultured" mean (not primitive) + cultured?? – Mrt Dec 14 '14 at 23:38
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    The way the test was designed reminds me more of reasoning tests than of language tests. Though they want to make sure that you understand neither ... nor correctly, they diverge into logic, which is basically this: NOT (A OR B) is equivalent to (NOT A) AND (NOT B). – Damkerng T. Dec 15 '14 at 0:01
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Society of Anglo-Saxon England was both advanced and cultured.

Society of Anglo-Saxon England was not primitive or cultured.

As we know that the said society was not only advanced but also cultured, the first sentence properly expresses the statement. The second sentence expresses that the society was not primitive, which to some extent means the same as advanced, but at the same time it says it was not cultured, which isn't true. Here, it should be "not uncultured", which means the same as cultured.

He is intelligent and active. How come we can say "he is not unintelligent or active"? The correct alternative sentence should be "he is not unintelligent or inactive".

Even if we correct the second sentence by replacing "cultured" with "uncultured", I think the first sentence will still express the idea in a better way.

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