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Posted on Tuesday 24 May 2011 at 1:51 pm

Random Grammar Question


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Does a phrase along the lines of "the year xxxx was the height of group A's persecution" mean:

A.) This was the height of the persecution of group A by group B?

B.) This was the height of group A persecuting group B?

C.) either of the above are possible depending on the context?

If the phrase were continued with either the word of or by group B, that would seem to mean that it can go either way and which preposition is used would be the context that would make it obvious which of options A or B above is intended. But what if the phrase stops at persecution? Is there a default assumption of whether it is "persecution of" or "persecution by" if further elaboration isn't provided?
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Comments:

What's Taters, Precious?
mrstater at 7:03 pm on 24 May 2011 (UTC) (Link)
I'd say A, because you generally don't talk about the persecutors. That would obviously be the case if you said "1940 was the height of the Jews' persecution," but I think it would also be the assumption for less infamous examples than that.

That said, it's poor wording and I think it would be better to say "Persecution against X reached its height in XXXX."
Rachael
bratty_jedi at 4:50 pm on 25 May 2011 (UTC) (Link)
I'm basically with you, especially on the poor wording bit. There was a sentence in something I was reading yesterday that did it more like option B. I understood what was being said because I knew who was persecuting whom, but it rubbed me the wrong way and I wanted to know if I was right in finding it odd or maybe even wrong.


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