What is the meaning of the underlined part

There is a spike in the mails since the re-election of Narendra Modi and his supporters pitching him for the primeministership. At some level, all these letters share the opinion that one who has got the electoral approval is beyond criticism, and that this newspaper is not accepting the electoral verdict as the ultimate truth.I am disturbed by the tone, tenor and the general thrust of these letters as they try to reconstruct India as a homogenous entity obliterating its multiplicities, its natural treasure called its diversities and heterogeneities. At one level, these voices say that they are not bothered about what the world thinks of them and cloak a form of xenophobia.

Can 'at some level' and 'at one level' be used interchangeably? Or is there a difference between them?

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  • 1
    Well, at one level usually means a concrete inference in the texts that you can identify and justify. At some level is an inference that is less well defined, and is only hinted at in the text. But you've edited the text (tinyurl.com/bvkzzfm) considerably to bring the two examples closer together! The second instance is used to mean On the one hand... in the source text and is contrasted by having on the other hand as a counter-argument. – Charl E Apr 2 '16 at 13:38
  • Thank you Charl E sir. I am sorry I just didn't do it intentionally. I will be more careful in future. But I still have not understood the meaning of 'at some level' and how I must use it. Could you please tell me by giving an example as to how I must use it. By the way are you cheering for England tomorrow against the Windies? I am going to be at the Eden Gardens tomorrow. Thank you. – policewala Apr 2 '16 at 14:31
  • 2
    @Charl E: Another way of saying at some level is an inference that is less well defined (or perhaps, a logical inference from that) is that any such assertion featuring the (significantly less common) word some rather than one is a more tentative assertion. If you refer to at one level, you probably have a clear idea exactly what that level is, and could easily expand on it. But if you use at some level, there's a strong implication that although you believe such a level exists, you couldn't clearly identify it. But it's an ELL-level question, I think. – FumbleFingers Apr 2 '16 at 14:38
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    At some level, I think @FumbleFingers is right. – John Clifford Apr 2 '16 at 14:40
  • @Fumblefingers yes, that's a better way of putting it. Interestingly Brewers doesn't have an etymology for the phrase, in either the classic or 20th century editions. – Charl E Apr 2 '16 at 14:42

Can 'at some level' and 'at one level' be used interchangeably?

Yes they can, sometimes.

Or is there any difference between them?

Yes there is.

Generally, I like pizza. But at one level, I hate anchovies on pizza. At another level, I hate pasta on pizza. So at some level, I'm picky about what I want on my pizza.

In the OPs example some and one could be swapped without impact. In the above example swapping one and some leads to confusion.

One means there is one in particular. Some is a general hand wave that indicates there must be some level like this. Some doesn't preclude the possibility of two as much as one does.

In the pizza example, I show I am picky about pizza at both the anchovy and pasta levels. Thus, I am picky at two levels. Thus, I am picky at some level. Some does not count how many levels I am picky at so there could be one or more than one. But to say I am picky at one level implies there is only one level. But in this case, I am picky at at least two levels.

  • Thank you for replying Orange. Could you please explain to me what you meant by "at some level" when you used "So at some level, I am picky about what i want on my pizza". And also I didn't understand what is meant when you say " Some doesn't preclude the possibility of two as much as one does." Please help me with this. It is very confusing. I just don't understand when to use 'at some level' and 'at one level' Thank you – policewala Apr 3 '16 at 4:52
  • Updated. How do you like it now? – candied_orange Apr 3 '16 at 5:51
  • Wow yes this is very clear to me. Thank you so so so much Orange sir. I was confused about some level, because I thought some level meant only one level and that was confusing me a lot. Now it is clear. I will ask for you help if I have any trouble in future. Thank you! – Policewala Apr 3 '16 at 6:09

at some level X is true
Often implies that although X appears not to be true, there is a (non-obvious, but contextually significant) perspective from which it is true, and the speaker wants us to bear this in mind.

at one level X is true
Often implies that although X appears to be true from the default perspective, the speaker intends to focus on a contextually significant alternative perspective from which it's not true.

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