I came across this sentence when I read The Economist:

When the time comes for year-end accountings, both the accomplishments and the cock-ups tend to be judged the offspring of lone egomaniacs or saints, rather than the joint efforts that characterise most human endeavour.

I just can't quite understand or punctuate the bold-faced sentence. I need help.

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    Let's see if we can pin down your problem. If I tell you the structure is both A and B tend to be judged C rather than D, does that help? Nov 24, 2015 at 1:33
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    We're making progress! "I judge him a scoundrel" means "My judgment/assessment is that he is a scoundrel". In the passive this would be "He is judged a scoundrel [by me]". We understand that the Agent in your example, the 'person' who does the judging, is the-world-in-general. ... Does anything else confuse you? Nov 24, 2015 at 1:46
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    'Endeavor' should be plural. Are you looking for a translation breaking down the sentence piece by piece?
    – Salteris
    Nov 24, 2015 at 1:53
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    It doesn't have to be. It's like effort or action: we may use either the singular to speak of endeavor-in-general, or the plural to speak of a collection of individual endeavors. Nov 24, 2015 at 2:31
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    In this case, the words "thought of as" can be substituted for the word "judged" with little change of meaning. Perhaps that helps to clarify the structure.
    – BobRodes
    Nov 24, 2015 at 5:16

2 Answers 2


The basic structure is both A and B tend to be judged C rather than D. Judge here means approximately "assess" or "consider" or "evaluate". It takes two complements: C is the person or event or thing which is evaluated, and D is the value which is assigned to C. So

He is judged a scoundrel means that People consider that he is a scoundrel.

You may paraphrase, then:

At the end of the year, when we add up the pluses and minuses, we tend to attribute both the positive accomplishments and the negative failures to individuals, to madmen or saints, instead of attributing them to collective action—which is what most human action is.

  • I wonder how do you appraise such a writing style, stringing together all those ornate words and phrases?
    – dennylv
    Nov 24, 2015 at 2:34
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    @dennylv Good models and nearly 70 years of practice. Nov 24, 2015 at 2:51
  • Good comment. I surely am not qualified to judge the writing style of the Economist which takes on various manners with so many excellent writers. I am just an English learner with very superficial learning. I just want to say, within my very limited reading experiences, I am more inclined to Hemingway's works.
    – dennylv
    Nov 24, 2015 at 3:11
  • Making long sentences juggling with abstruse logic, concepts and words is not the first option in my Chinese writing. (I'm just trying to discuss with you, no offense and with all due respect.)
    – dennylv
    Nov 24, 2015 at 3:22
  • Ok, I say too much. :)
    – dennylv
    Nov 24, 2015 at 4:00


Such flouting speech...

When taking a year of details into account, major good and bad events, are seen as the efforts of solitary individuals rather than the collective efforts of people working together.

I'd break it down more, but I think this might do.

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