much less

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much less

Post by navi » Sun May 27, 2018 8:42 am

1) "The sides of River Up are too wooded for stands, much less visitors,"

Source:
E. R. Barnes
Room Enough and Time: Lor Linden Book Two - Page 206

Link:
https://tinyurl.com/y9dlw8lr

I find '1' strange. Is it correct?

How about:

2) The house was too big for us, more so for a smaller family.

3) The house was too big for us, much less for a smaller family.

Gratefully,
Navi
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Re: much less

Post by tony h » Sun May 27, 2018 3:28 pm

Yes, 1 is correct. What is it about it that you find strange?

Did you intend to link 2 & 3 to 1? If so, I don't understand the point you are making.
Otherwise, 2 is quite correct but 3 makes no sense.

Regards
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I'm puzzled therefore I think.

Re: much less

Post by navi » Sun May 27, 2018 6:21 pm

Thank you very much, Tony,

I hadn't heard 'much less' used that way. That was what was strange to me.

The structure seems to be 'too adjective for A, much less for B'.
I thought my '3' had the same structure, but now I see that maybe there is a difference.

In '1', the visitors are going to be there as well as the stands. '


1) "The sides of River Up are too wooded for stands, much less visitors,"

In '3', the smaller family would -in theory at least- replace us.

3) The house was too big for us, much less for a smaller family.

Gratefully,
Navi
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Re: much less

Post by tony h » Sun May 27, 2018 8:19 pm

The house was too big for us, more so for a smaller family.
This works as:
- The house has 27 bedrooms, 15 reception rooms, staff quarters for 12, together with 10 acres of formal garden maintained by a staff of 6.
- We are a family of 15 looking for an easy to maintain weekend retreat.
- So the house was too big for us
- A small family (of 3) would find it too big : more so than us.

The "more so" means that B would find the same situation but in greater degree than A.

With "The house was too big for us, much less for a smaller family" the logic would be correct if you change big for small.
The house was too small for us, much less for a smaller family. ie a smaller family would cope better with the small house.

In "The sides of River Up are too wooded for stands, much less visitors" we need to know two things. River Up is a place and stands refers to the stands to be erected for a fair (as opposed to stands of trees).

So the statement is that Up River is so wooded that it would be difficult enough to erect the stands and then (I presume visitors have pretty dresses and footwear that is not suitable for such an unkempt area) there is no way (more so) that the visitors would venture off the neatly mown lawns to tackle the relative jungle.
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Re: much less

Post by navi » Mon May 28, 2018 7:22 am

Thank you very much for this detailed reply,

I really appreciate your patience and the effort you've made. I can follow the first part of your explanation. It is crystal-clear. But as regards sentence '1', I seem hopelessly lost. I think I have a blind spot or something. To me, in that sentence 'much less' has to be replaced with 'more so'.


1) "The sides of River Up are too wooded for stands, much less visitors."

1a) The sides of River Up are too wooded for stands, more so visitors.

As I said, this might be a hopeless case. I don't seem to get it. I should probably come back to it in a while.

Gratefully,
Navi
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Re: much less

Post by tony h » Mon May 28, 2018 9:31 am

If you consider a scale of Suitability-of-a-place-for-a-fair with 0 being ok, 10 being perfect (acres of green lawns) and -10 being dreadful (a swamp).

Then in this case "The sides of River Up are too wooded for stands, much less visitors" the comments is :

- "too wooded for stands" is a negative position.
- River Up scores -3 for suitability of stands and stalls
- but as a place for visitors to walk it scores "much less" maybe a score of -7.

It may, of course, score -7 because it is difficult to get to, or too hilly, or whatever.

"More so" would be used to enhance a positive.

eg Abbey Park is a lovely place for a picnic, it would be more so if they cleaned up the river.
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Re: much less

Post by Erik_Kowal » Mon May 28, 2018 1:22 pm

navi wrote:
Mon May 28, 2018 7:22 am
But as regards sentence '1', I seem hopelessly lost. I think I have a blind spot or something. To me, in that sentence 'much less' has to be replaced with 'more so'.

1) "The sides of River Up are too wooded for stands, much less visitors."

1a) The sides of River Up are too wooded for stands, more so visitors.

As I said, this might be a hopeless case. I don't seem to get it. I should probably come back to it in a while.
I agree with you, Navi: I don't think it makes sense either. The original sentence is made even more awkward by the omission of the expected word 'for' before 'visitors'.

In fact, if we insert the missing 'for', the illogicality of Barnes's wording is laid bare: "The sides of River Up are too wooded for stands, much less for visitors."

The only way in which this could make sense requires some inelegant mental acrobatics to arrive at the following interpretation: "The sides of River Up are too wooded for stands, but they are much less excessively wooded for visitors." We could simplify this to the far clearer, "The sides of River Up are too wooded for stands, but not for visitors."

If Barnes had written something like, "The sides of River Up are too wooded for stands, let alone [for*] visitors," or "The sides of River Up are too wooded for stands, and certainly so for visitors," there would have been no problem, because with these expressions the reader is not forced into making sense of a confusing and ambiguous construction.

But what did Barnes actually mean to say? That would have remained unclear save for the fact that the sentence can be viewed in context here.

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* Desirable but not essential.
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