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only (as an adjective)

English translation: all the changes

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23:54 Sep 11, 2007
English to English translations [Non-PRO]
Linguistics
English term or phrase: only (as an adjective)
Text from the Economist.com:

"The Olympic Games in 2008 will open China to outside scrutiny as never before. But what changes will they bring? Will freer media and faster political reform result, or will the ONLY changes be cosmetic?"

The word "only", in this context, is an adjective, right? But what does it mean exactly? "Few"?

Thanks in advance.
xxxCarolina B
Local time: 19:37
English translation:all the changes
Explanation:
Cosmetic changes will be the only changes.
There will be no changes except for cosmetic changes.

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Note added at 2 hrs (2007-09-12 01:56:15 GMT)
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Or, since your original posts a question:

Will there be any changes except for cosmetic ones?
Selected response from:

Alexander Demyanov
Local time: 18:37
Grading comment
Thank you very much. Now it makes more sense to me!
4 KudoZ points were awarded for this answer

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Summary of answers provided
4 +8all the changesAlexander Demyanov
4the changes, if any, ...Huijun Suo
1 -1word order
Erich Ekoputra


  

Answers


29 mins   confidence: Answerer confidence 4/5Answerer confidence 4/5
the changes, if any, ...


Explanation:
But what changes will they bring? Will freer media and faster political reform result, or will the changes, if any, be cosmetic?

A sense of scantiness or lesser importance is implied, that is, will the few changes or changes other than such important ones as freer media and faster political reform be cosmetic?

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Note added at 37 mins (2007-09-12 00:32:20 GMT)
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and a sense of insubstantiality, superficiality, to strengthen the word "cosmetic".

Huijun Suo
China
Local time: 06:37
Specializes in field
Native speaker of: Native in ChineseChinese

Peer comments on this answer (and responses from the answerer)
neutral  Alexander Demyanov: This does more or less correctly convey the spirit of what the author is saying. However, the original doesn't express any doubt that there will be some changes, so "if any" is a deviation from the original meaning.
1 hr
  -> Thanks Alexander, let me think it over again.:)

neutral  Tony M: With Alex...
7 hrs
  -> Thanks Tony, I feel I am catching on a bit!
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1 hr   confidence: Answerer confidence 4/5Answerer confidence 4/5 peer agreement (net): +8
all the changes


Explanation:
Cosmetic changes will be the only changes.
There will be no changes except for cosmetic changes.

--------------------------------------------------
Note added at 2 hrs (2007-09-12 01:56:15 GMT)
--------------------------------------------------

Or, since your original posts a question:

Will there be any changes except for cosmetic ones?

Alexander Demyanov
Local time: 18:37
Native speaker of: Native in RussianRussian
PRO pts in category: 30
Grading comment
Thank you very much. Now it makes more sense to me!

Peer comments on this answer (and responses from the answerer)
agree  Refugio: You are right, Alexander. Transposing the "only" to an adverbial position changes the meaning somewhat.
1 hr
  -> Thanks, Ruth!

agree  Andrew Levine: Exactly...
1 hr
  -> Thanks, Andrew!

agree  William [Bill] Gray: Yes, Alexander, you have understood it perfectly here. One would have hoped for deeper changes as a result of the focus coming to China through the games, but the only ones may in fact (in the writers opinion) be merely cosmetic.
5 hrs
  -> Thanks, Bill!

agree  Tony M
5 hrs
  -> Thanks, Tony!

agree  Carol Gullidge
5 hrs
  -> Thanks, Carol!

agree  xxxcmwilliams
6 hrs
  -> Thanks, cm!

agree  Suzan Hamer
7 hrs
  -> Thanks, Suzan!

agree  xxxAlfa Trans
4 days
  -> Thanks, Marju.
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3 hrs   confidence: Answerer confidence 1/5Answerer confidence 1/5 peer agreement (net): -1
word order


Explanation:
I suspect it's a matter of word order.

Instead of: will the ONLY changes be cosmetic?

it might be: will the changes ONLY be cosmetic?

So, it's not adjective, but adverb. Ref below isn't anything, but how the same idea happened somewhere else.

Ref:
Will the changes only be cosmetic? Are new images needed?

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Note added at 7 hrs (2007-09-12 07:30:11 GMT)
--------------------------------------------------

Based on input from Andrew, the fourth line should read:

So, when the order is changed, it's not an adjective. When reordered, then it becomes clear: all changes are only cosmetice; there is no need to single out any single change as the word "only" usually refers to.

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Note added at 7 hrs (2007-09-12 07:31:03 GMT)
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cosmetic; not cosmetice.... sorry :)

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Note added at 7 hrs (2007-09-12 07:35:31 GMT)
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Sorry again, "based on input" should be read "based on disagreement".


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Erich Ekoputra
Indonesia
Local time: 05:37
Native speaker of: Native in IndonesianIndonesian

Peer comments on this answer (and responses from the answerer)
disagree  Andrew Levine: "only" is NOT an adverb in the asker's sentence. It is quite simply an adjective, which modifies "changes."
32 mins
  -> I am saying if YOU CHANGE the word order, it won't be adjective. If you change the order, then it's clear: all changes are only cosmetic.
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Changes made by editors
Sep 12, 2007 - Changes made by Tony M:
LevelPRO » Non-PRO


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