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Excerpted from Did Burke Betray The Cause Of Liberty?:

All these works can be situated historically by reference to the excellent chronology provided.

I have a few questions:

  1. Provided there is pretty odd to me, provided what? All these works can be situated historically by reference to the excellent chronology is already itself a complete sentence to me, I don't see how the original structure works.
  2. What does this sentence mean exactly? (a) All these works can be situated historically because they mention some reference to time and events in other excellent documents(chronology), or (b) All these works can be situated historically provided you use other excellent chronology as reference.
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The meaning is that "all these works can be situated historically because they mention some reference to time or events that has already been organized into a chronology, which is conveniently nearby in this document."

This "provided" is actually serving more as an adjective, post-modifying "chronology". The sentence is saying "... by reference to the excellent chronology [that was] provided". The point is, someone has already given you the chronology; you don't have to go searching for it, it's right there on the next page (or someplace obvious in the book, at least).

Normally you would say "to the provided chronology", but the author wanted to emphasize the fact that the chronology is excellent, and for reasons I cannot explain well, combining "excellent" and "provided" on the same side of the noun sounds awkward and wrong. (I expect it has something to do with adjective order, though.) So, converting it to "excellent chronology that was provided" and then eliding out the "that was" as something that should be understood was a natural choice.

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  • Yes, if the author hadn't seen a need to say "excellent", he could have written, "by reference to the provided chronology". I think it's awkward because if you write "the provided excellent chronology" it becomes unclear whether you mean that the chronology was provided or the excellence was provided. In any case, it's fairly common to put the adjective "provided" after a noun, even in the absence of other adjectives. I can't think of any general rule why this would be so. – Jay Mar 28 '16 at 4:11

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