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I have two questions. It is hard to understand “awkward silence, made no less so by….” in the second sentence below. Does this mean “There was an awkward silence, and it was made no less so by…” ?

The other question is about the meaning of “no less so.” This means “no less awkward,” perhaps. I can understand the sentences,for example, “She is wise and you are no less so. (= She is no less wise than you are.)” Both are the same in meaning, aren’t they? But the sentence in question below is hard to understand, because I don’t understand what you compare with what in the sentence.

We greeted each other stiffly. There was an awkward silence, made no less so by the way Nirar kept looking at me, as if she were fixing every detail of my features in her memory.

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If I understand your two questions correctly, then I believe they are really just one question and I believe you are correct

In this instance, the word so in no less so refers to the word awkward. So you can rewrite the sentence as

There was an awkward silence. This awkward silence was made no less awkward by the way Nirar kept looking at me, as if she were fixing every detail of my features in her memory.

In other words, it did not help that Nirar was looking at the speaker in that manner. In fact, it probably made the speaker feel more uncomfortable since the speaker felt like Narir was fixing the speaker in Narir's mind.

Similarly,

She is wise and you are no less so.

means what you said, except I would change the order:

You are no less wise than her ("she").

This is because we are comparing "you" to her, not her to "you".

  • No problem. Good luck. – Em. Jun 17 '16 at 9:47

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