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Have I correctly revised the following?

The discovery has resulted in no less than a total reevaluation of every chronological criterion that has been applied to or derived from Aeschylus’ plays.

The revised one:

The discovery has not resulted in less than a total reevaluation...

I am wondering if the two sentences — now that one of them has been revised — mean the same thing.

I have just excerpted this part from this forum topic.

  • I think I understood what Nima meant to do with the sentence, and I tried to answer. Hope that helps! – CowperKettle Sep 12 '15 at 17:05
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    @CopperKettle I'm trying to rouse the Chat rabble to reopen this: your very delicate edit showed exactly where the 'specific source of concern' lies, and your answer shows why it's important. I trust you have voted/will vote to reopen, too. – StoneyB on hiatus Sep 12 '15 at 17:28
  • @StoneyB Yes, I've just voted. Thank you for your effort, Stoney! – CowperKettle Sep 12 '15 at 17:28
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The meaning of

The discovery has resulted in no less than a total reevaluation of every chronological criterion that has been applied to or derived from Aeschylus’ plays.

would differ from the meaning of your revision,

The discovery has not resulted in less than a total reevaluation of every chronological criterion that has been applied to or derived from Aeschylus’ plays.

With your revision, the adjective phrase "no less than" is broken, and this makes the sentence change its meaning in a drastic way.

I understand that you tried to move the negation (no) from "no less than" to the left, and place it before "resulted". But that word no is an integral part of the phrase "no less than":

The discovery has resulted in [no less than] a total reevaluation of every chronological criterion that has been applied to or derived from Aeschylus’ plays. (the phrase "no less than" is used to stress the magnitude of the reevaluation that followed the discovery).

You can only take the phrase away as a whole:

The discovery has resulted in a total reevaluation of every chronological criterion that has been applied to or derived from Aeschylus’ plays.

This way, with the whole phrase removed, there is less 'emotional emphasis' in the sentence, but the core meaning of the sentence remains unchanged. We cannot break apart this phrase.

Putting it another way, the negative word no negates only the word less. You probably thought that the word no negated the bigger part of the sentence:

The discovery has resulted in no [less than a total reevaluation ...] . (This is a wrong representation)

The discovery has resulted in [no [less]] than [a total reevaluation ...] (This is a correct representation: no only negates the word "less).

When no is not part of a phrase like "no less than", there are instances when you can move it from one place to another:

The summer season has brought no sunshine.
The summer season has not brought any sunshine.


P.S. (Kudos to Damkerng who noticed this) The phrase "less than" could also be a valid combination, but you would have to move the indefinite article a bit:

The discovery has resulted in a [less than total] reevaluation of every chronological criterion that has been applied to or derived from Aeschylus’ plays. (This would mean that the discovery did result in a reevaluation, but this reevaluation fell short of being a total one).


In my humble opinion, the best way to stop doing "parsing mistakes" of this kind is to take some interesting books in English and read a lot. You won't understand much at first, but by and by your mind will start noticing patterns.

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    @CopperKettle A slight correction, which DamkerngT noticed: It's not an idiom that's "broken" but the constituent, no less than total, an adjective phrase which modifies reevaluation. By moving the negator OP illegitimately enlarges its scope. – StoneyB on hiatus Sep 12 '15 at 17:57
  • @StoneyB - thank you! I replaced idiom with phrase! Feel free to weed out further problems in the answer! I should abstain from giving answers, it takes a trainload of time. (0: – CowperKettle Sep 12 '15 at 18:05

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