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Please explain the meaning of this sentence.

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Please explain the meaning of this sentence.  [#permalink]

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New post 12 Mar 2018, 02:25
This sentence appeared in a article in "The Economist". I am not able to understand the meaning, Can someone please explain the meaning of the sentence along with antecedents of pronouns.

"TO HEAR Italy’s politicians tell it, the country is, if not quite out of the woods, then at least emerging into an unexpected clearing, blinking gratefully."
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Please explain the meaning of this sentence.  [#permalink]

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New post 15 Mar 2018, 17:59
sandesh87 wrote:
This sentence appeared in a article in "The Economist". I am not able to understand the meaning, Can someone please explain the meaning of the sentence along with antecedents of pronouns.

"TO HEAR Italy’s politicians tell it, the country is, if not quite out of the woods, then at least emerging into an unexpected clearing, blinking gratefully."

sandesh87 , this sentence uses personification (making something not human have human attributes), idiom, and metaphor.

Bear with me. Please imagine that the country, Italy, is a person. (It's a stylistic device. BTW, just to be sure: Personification is never allowed on SC.)

With one exception (the phrase "to hear tell"), the sentence means:

Italian politicians say that Italy is almost free from dangerous problems with which it has been struggling. The Italian politicians do not claim the country is completely safe. Rather, the country found an unexpected way to diminish some of the danger. In addition, until recently, Italy was nearly blinded by its dangerous problems; the country battled against those problems with very little insight or perceptiveness. When the danger diminished quite a bit, Italy found itself in a safer place with clearer vision.

• "to hear tell" means to be told X by someone.

• "not quite out of the woods" means "not quite out of danger" (a forest = the woods, which are dense with trees and darkness and wild animals. The woods contain danger. It is easy to get lost. It is hard to see. It is hard to find one's way out.)

• A clearing is a place in a dense forest ("in the woods") where there are no trees and hence plenty of light. A clearing is safer than a dense forest.
If a person is "in the clear," in English, the person is out of danger.

With respect to the sentences in blue and the sentence in the article: Italian politicians have said words similar to those sentences in blue. The Italian politicians' words, idiomatically, are straightforward. Here is a very simplified version of what the Italian politicians said:
"We were in danger, we caught a lucky break, we are mostly out of danger, and we can see how to get out of danger, although we are a bit dazed."

As mentioned, in one instance, the sentence might not be straightforward.
"To hear tell" means "to be told by someone," or "to hear about."
It is very old-fashioned.
The way it is used here suggests that the author doubts what the Italian politicians say.

The author might be saying, "The way the Italians tell the story about their country is X. I am not sure I believe X."
I stress the phrase "might be saying."

The author might just be using an old-fashioned phrase for no reason.
Or she might be conveying doubt about the veracity of the Italian politicians. I cannot be certain.

(That said, good writers in good publications such as The Economist almost never do things -- such as using an old-fashioned phrase -- without reason.
I am 90 percent certain she means to convey doubt about what the Italian politicians said.)

I hope that helps. :-)
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Please explain the meaning of this sentence. &nbs [#permalink] 15 Mar 2018, 17:59
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Please explain the meaning of this sentence.

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