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Researchers claim to have developed new "nano-papers" incorp

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Researchers claim to have developed new "nano-papers" incorp [#permalink] New post 08 May 2012, 09:55
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Researchers claim to have developed new "nano-papers" incorporating tiny cellulose fibers, which THEY allege give THEM the strength of cast iron.
Now, the explanation behind the correction is that THEY / THEM in the aforementioned sentence can refer to both the researchers or the nano-papers. There is ambiguity and hence it rephrases the sentence as follows:-
Researchers claim to have developed new "nano-papers" incorporating tiny cellulose fibers, which allegedly give THESE MATERIALS the strength of cast iron.

Hello every one. I am new to the group. Planning to write GMAT by the end of June'12. Just started with preps. Don't know how this will be possible with only weekends to study.

Anywho, I was going through the SC tips from Manhattan. I got stuck at some tips and could not swallow. Kindly help me with the usage of these pronouns.

Fine, my first doubt is that does WHICH have any ambiguity in this? And does comma have any effect on the pronouns?

2. Another sentence
Confronted by radical changes in production and distribution, modern Hollywood studios are attempting various experiments in an effort to retain THEIR status as the primary arbiter of movie consumption.
According to MR, this sentence does not have any error. But my doubt is that when THEY can refer to nano-papers in the first sentence, then cannot "experiments" refer to THEIR? And then, there will be an ambiguity and the sentence will be incorrect.



Thanks people...
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Re: Manhattan SC review 4th edition [#permalink] New post 08 May 2012, 10:10
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Hi Talismaaniac,

The question of ambiguity with pronouns is maybe somewhat ambiguous itself :).

In general though, if a pronoun can plausibly refer to more than one subject it is considered ambiguous. What constitutes plausible of course allow a little wiggle room in interpretation. Let's look at your first example.

1. Researchers claim to have developed new "nano-papers" incorporating tiny cellulose fibers, which THEY allege give THEM the strength of cast iron.

Could researchers have the strength of cast iron? Plausibly no, one might think, as even the strongest power lifter doesn't quite have the strength of cast iron. The thing is people can be strong. And in hundreds years, perhaps we will have the (ahem) technology to have humans with the strength of cast iron (again the comparison isn't directly apt, as cast iron strength doesn't completely relate to human strength).

However, let's compare the ambiguity to the potential ambiguity in the second sentence.

2. Confronted by radical changes in production and distribution, modern Hollywood studios are attempting various experiments in an effort to retain THEIR status as the primary arbiter of movie consumption.

Do you know any experiments that direct movies? No, the question is utterly absurd and nonsensical. Therefore, we would not suggest that experiments are trying to retain their status as the arbiter of movie consumption. It is clear that only humans create movies (vs. the first sentence that talks about strength, something displayed by both humans and metals).

Therefore, a pronoun is not ambiguous if it reasonably can refer to only one noun. And by reasonably/plausibly I mean it does not lead to arrant nonsense, the way experiments (abstract noun) starts doing things only humans do.

Hope that helps :).
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Re: Manhattan SC review 4th edition [#permalink] New post 09 May 2012, 23:39
Hey Thanks Magoosh for a clear explanation,, I still have doubt regarding the potential of nano-papers to allege (because Manhattan mentions that THEY can refer to both the researchers and nano-papers...
And you said can experiments direct movies.

Just my doubt. Perhaps I am getting too much into this?
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Re: Manhattan SC review 4th edition [#permalink] New post 10 May 2012, 04:29
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I am also unable to see the reason behind the dichotomous explanation of the originator (which incidentally I suppose is the rated MGMAT Review, and not the Manhattan Review (MR), which is a different company)

Let us now dissect the issue.

Quote:
Researchers claim to have developed new "nano-papers" incorporating tiny cellulose fibers, which THEY allege give THEM the strength of cast iron.—



The cause of disagreement is that the pronoun they could refer to both researchers and nano papers, structurally and plausibly logically. So let us replace the pronoun with both referents and see which suits logically better.


1. Researchers claim to have developed new "nano-papers" incorporating tiny cellulose fibers, which researchers allege give THEM the strength of cast iron.—

2. Researchers claim to have developed new "nano-papers" incorporating tiny cellulose fibers, which nano papers THEM the strength of cast iron.—
Can nano papers allege? Please ponder. On the contrary, the subject pronoun they stands for the subject of the sentence namely researcher and therefore by that rule, it will be prudent to accept researchers as the referent for they.

The object pronoun them will also go better with the object of the sentence -nano-papers. Logically too, them cannot refer to researchers because the researchers' job is to do research and not turn iron-strong by consuming papers
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Re: Manhattan SC review 4th edition   [#permalink] 10 May 2012, 04:29
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