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# Margaret Courtney-Clarke has traveled to remote dwellings in

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Margaret Courtney-Clarke has traveled to remote dwellings in [#permalink]

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30 Nov 2012, 11:25
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65% (hard)

Question Stats:

48% (02:28) correct 52% (01:38) wrong based on 140 sessions

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Margaret Courtney-Clarke has traveled to remote dwellings in the Transvaal to photograph the art of Ndebele women, whose murals are brilliantly colored, their geometrical symmetries embellished with old and new iconography and in a style that varies from woman to woman and house to house.
(A) whose murals are brilliantly colored, their geometrical symmetries embellished with old and new iconography and in a style that varies from woman to woman and house to house
(B) whose murals are brilliantly colored, their geometrical symmetries are embellished with old and new iconography, and their style is varying among women and houses
(C) whose murals are brilliantly colored, their geometrical symmetries are embellished with old and new iconography, and they are in styles that vary from woman to woman and house to house
(D) with murals brilliantly colored, their geometrical symmetries embellished with old and new iconography, and their style varies among women and houses
(E) with murals that are brilliantly colored, their geometrical symmetries embellished with old and new iconography, and their styles vary among women and houses

Didn't quite understand how is the OA correct.
[Reveal] Spoiler: OA

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Last edited by pqhai on 07 Dec 2013, 12:47, edited 1 time in total.
Underlined the question.
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Re: Margaret Courtney-Clarke has traveled [#permalink]

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04 Dec 2012, 01:46
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I like the substance of Marcab's response, and he's very sharp to recognize an absolute phrase in the right answer, but I'd like to add a couple of notes on process here. First, let me reproduce the question with underlining.

Margaret Courtney-Clarke has traveled to remote dwellings in the Transvaal to photograph the art of Ndebele women, whose murals are brilliantly colored, their geometrical symmetries embellished with old and new iconography and in a style that varies from woman to woman and house to house.
(A) whose murals are brilliantly colored, their geometrical symmetries embellished with old and new iconography and in a style that varies from woman to woman and house to house
(B) whose murals are brilliantly colored, their geometrical symmetries are embellished with old and new iconography, and their style is varying among women and houses
(C) whose murals are brilliantly colored, their geometrical symmetries are embellished with old and new iconography, and they are in styles that vary from woman to woman and house to house
(D) with murals brilliantly colored, their geometrical symmetries embellished with old and new iconography, and their style varies among women and houses
(E) with murals that are brilliantly colored, their geometrical symmetries embellished with old and new iconography, and their styles vary among women and houses

As most forum regulars know, Manhattan GMAT's approach to SC relies on splits, differences among the answers choices. Once in a great while you may hear something specific wrong as you read the original sentence, and more often than that you will recognize a certain structure (e.g., a list) and know that the sentence will test a certain issue (e.g., parallelism), but usually you don't know what's at issue until you see the differences among the answer choices.

When a very big portion of the sentence is underlined, as here, you'll often find problems with parallelism, modifiers, or what the OG explanations calls rhetorical construction. I more or less expected such problems in the answers to this question , but I hoped for some very clear splits among those answers, and didn't dwell at all on these likely issues ahead of time. So how do the answer choices differ?

I. The first split is between whose in A, B, and C and with in D and E. Since whose correctly modifies women--it is their murals which are brilliantly colored--I eliminated D and E. That might seem rash; just because whose is acceptable doesn't mean with is unacceptable, right? I don't want to get off track here, but I'll explain below why I was so confident that D and E were wrong.

II. The next split is between symmetries embellished in A and symmetries are embellished in B and C. In A embellished modifies the noun symmetries, while in B and C are embellished is a verb whose subject is symmetries. Just as Marcab suggests, B and C are wrong in part because they contain so-called comma splices, commas used to join independent clauses. In both B and C, the independent clauses inappropriately joined by the comma are Margaret Courtney-Clarke has traveled and symmetries are embellished. (By the way, a sentence containing a comma splice is often called a run-on sentence, and that's fine with me, but grammarians usually reserve run-on sentence to talk about other problems.)

III. So that leaves A.

IV. As Marcab suggested, A uses a device called an absolute phrase, a noun+modifier, to modify an entire clause. You can read about absolute phrases on pages 242 and 243 of the Manhattan GMAT SC Strategy Guide, 5th edition (or pages 237 and 238 of the 4th Edition). Honestly, I've never seen a real GMAT SC question that really demanded that you understand absolute phrases. If you can confidently eliminate four wrong answers, even if the remaining answer is a bit of a head-scratcher, it must be right.

V. For what it's worth, absolute phrases are pretty rare on the GMAT. They're also sufficiently abstruse that many years ago, when I was teaching at a school for English-learners, a student asked me, "Could we use an absolute phrase here?", and I had no idea what he meant.

VI. Finally, in the first numbered section above I blithely eliminated D and E, just because whose correctly modifies women. Why so quick? Although prepositions, such as with, can be either noun modifiers or adverbial modifiers, when the GMAT gives you a split between a relative clause and a prepositional phrase in the very same spot, they're using the prepositional phrase to modify a clause. They're giving you a choice between a noun modifier and an adverbial modifier. If you want to modify the preceding noun, choose the relative clause. Otherwise, choose the prepositional phrase.
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Re: Margaret Courtney-Clarke has traveled [#permalink]

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30 Nov 2012, 20:14
Expert's post
selfAnnihilation wrote:
Margaret Courtney-Clarke has traveled to remote dwellings in the Transvaal to photograph the art of Ndebele women, whose murals are brilliantly colored, their geometrical symmetries embellished with old and new iconography and in a style that varies from woman to woman and house to house.
(A) whose murals are brilliantly colored, their geometrical symmetries embellished with old and new iconography and in a style that varies from woman to woman and house to house
(B) whose murals are brilliantly colored, their geometrical symmetries are embellished with old and new iconography, and their style is varying among women and houses
(C) whose murals are brilliantly colored, their geometrical symmetries are embellished with old and new iconography, and they are in styles that vary from woman to woman and house to house
(D) with murals brilliantly colored, their geometrical symmetries embellished with old and new iconography, and their style varies among women and houses
(E) with murals that are brilliantly colored, their geometrical symmetries embellished with old and new iconography, and their styles vary among women and houses

Didn't quite understand how is the OA correct.

Hii selfannihilation.
The question involves the topic Absolute Phrases.
For more on how to tackle Absolute Phrases, visit: with-surface-temperatures-estimated-at-minus-230-degrees-143219.html

Before proceeding into the question, please note that two independent clause can't co-exist just by a mere separation of a "comma". To join two ICs, we need to have a conjunction word and that the absolute phrases can't stand alone.

A) whose murals are brilliantly colored, their geometrical symmetries embellished with old and new iconography and in a style that varies from woman to woman and house to house
The green shaded portion correctly describes the blue shaded portion, is an absolute phrase and can't stand alone. The best technique is to ask $$HOW$$ on the termination of the last IC and if the next clause answers your question exactly in its own words, then that clause is the absolute phrase and is the answer.
In this case, the last clause describes HOW murals were brilliantly coloured by explaining that their geometrical symmetries were embellished with old and new iconography and in a style that varies from woman to woman and house to house.

All other choices are disasters in that they either have ambiguity issue or IC issue. Here conjunction words would have been really helpful.

If you need more explanations how I eliminated the rest of others, do let me know. I will try my best.
Hope that helps.
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Re: Margaret Courtney-Clarke has traveled [#permalink]

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02 Dec 2012, 01:00
Margaret Courtney-Clarke has traveled to remote dwellings in the Transvaal to photograph the art of Ndebele women, whose murals are brilliantly colored, their geometrical symmetries embellished with old and new iconography and in a style that varies from woman to woman and house to house.
(A) whose murals are brilliantly colored, their geometrical symmetries embellished with old and new iconography and in a style that varies from woman to woman and house to house
(B) whose murals are brilliantly colored, their geometrical symmetries are embellished with old and new iconography, and their style is varying among women and houses
(C) whose murals are brilliantly colored, their geometrical symmetries are embellished with old and new iconography, and they are in styles that vary from woman to woman and house to house
(D) with murals brilliantly colored, their geometrical symmetries embellished with old and new iconography, and their style varies among women and houses
(E) with murals that are brilliantly colored, their geometrical symmetries embellished with old and new iconography, and their styles vary among women and houses

my 2 cents here :
women are not with murals -> eliminate D and E. Among A,B and C . In C 'they' is ambiguous -> it refer to geometrical symmteries or mural -> Eliminated.
In B , their is repetitive , that's an error. Eliminated. A wins.
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Re: Margaret Courtney-Clarke has traveled to remote dwellings in [#permalink]

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07 Dec 2013, 07:38
Hello from the GMAT Club VerbalBot!

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Re: Margaret Courtney-Clarke has traveled to remote dwellings in [#permalink]

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08 Dec 2013, 03:51
Thanks MichaelS for the great explanation.

However can you explain how the and part from (A) is right.

(A) whose murals are brilliantly colored, their geometrical symmetries embellished with old new iconography and in a style that varies from woman to woman and house to house

does it not break the construction. will it not make better sense if we remove the "AND"

(A) whose murals are brilliantly colored, their geometrical symmetries embellished with old new iconography in a style that varies from woman to woman and house to house

Thanks.
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Re: Margaret Courtney-Clarke has traveled to remote dwellings in [#permalink]

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15 Mar 2014, 14:00
seabhi wrote:
Thanks MichaelS for the great explanation.

However can you explain how the and part from (A) is right.

(A) whose murals are brilliantly colored, their geometrical symmetries embellished with old new iconography and in a style that varies from woman to woman and house to house

does it not break the construction. will it not make better sense if we remove the "AND"

(A) whose murals are brilliantly colored, their geometrical symmetries embellished with old new iconography in a style that varies from woman to woman and house to house

Thanks.

Let me express what I consider about that AND part.
In original choice "in a style" is modifying GEOMETRICAL SYMMETRIES, but in choice proposed by you "in a style" is modifying iconography.
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Re: Margaret Courtney-Clarke has traveled to remote dwellings in   [#permalink] 15 Mar 2014, 14:00
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