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Sometimes some sentences are really strange. I know the meaning of the all of the words in the following sentence but I really struggle to understand the meaning of the sentence as a whole: "Some of this history reflects unresolved differences being papered over by any evidence that can be brought to hand" ( emphasis added)

WDRs have not had a distinguished history of handling empirical evidence; too often bad—or simply incredible—evidence is presented along with useful and interesting new findings. Some of this history reflects unresolved differences being papered over by any evidence that can be brought to hand.

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When I have this problem (in other languages, I'm a native English speaker) I try to structure the sentence through grouping: which words belong to which part of the sentence?

Some of this history

Subject

reflects

Primary Verb

unresolved differences being papered over by any evidence that can be brought to hand.

Direct Obejct

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unresolved differences

Object

being papered over by any evidence that can be brought to hand.

Modifier

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

being papered over

Verb

by any evidence that can be brought to hand

Modifier

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

by any evidence

Prepositional Phrase

that can be brought to hand

Modifier

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

So from this, we learn that some of this history, i.e. certain past WDRs (I'm going to assume that stands for something something Report) show unresolved differences, i.e. unsolved problems, and those unresolved differences are being papered over, i.e. hidden, and they are hidden by any evidence that can be brought to hand, i.e. whatever they can find, the implication being that they frequently find faulty evidence.

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  • Good answer, and a nice explanation of the methodology to deal with similar sentences.
    – JavaLatte
    Jul 30, 2016 at 10:38

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