Balance within that inner and interpersonal life that creates us

English translation: "that creates and embraces" could refer either to "sense of balance" or to "rich [...] life"

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14:56 May 22, 2018
English to English translations [PRO]
Linguistics / meaning of \"that\" as a pronoun
English term or phrase: Balance within that inner and interpersonal life that creates us
Hi,
I think that the second occurrence of "that" in the passage below refers to "inner and interpersonal life", not to "balance"... in the sense that it's a rich inner and interpersonal life that creates and embraces our present and potential identity...

Many thanks for your attention and your help

***
And equanimity is the ability to achieve emotional equilibrium, to have a full range of emotions and attain a *** sense of balance within that rich inner and interpersonal life that both creates and embraces who we are and who we can become ***.
haribert
Local time: 18:27
English translation:"that creates and embraces" could refer either to "sense of balance" or to "rich [...] life"
Explanation:
"That both creates and embraces who we are" could refer to "a sense of balance", but there is no grammatical reason why it should not refer to "that rich inner and interpersonal life". Personally I think it's more likely to be the second, particularly if it's in line with what the author says elsewhere.

As Yvonne has explained, you could read it as "a sense of balance that both creates and embraces who we are", and take "within that inner and interpersonal life" as qualifying "a sense of balance". Alternatively, you could perfectly well take "that rich inner and interpersonal life that both creates and embraces who we are and who we can become" as a single unit. Neither reading can be excluded and both make grammatical sense. It's just a question of which is more likely. I think it's more likely — much more likely, in fact — that what creates and embraces our identity is our inner and interpersonal life itself rather than a sense of balance within that inner and interpersonal life. A sense of balance is no doubt desirable, but I don't think that sense of balance creates our identity; I think it's our life itself.

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Note added at 19 hrs (2018-05-23 09:59:15 GMT)
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I am quite sure that there is no grammatical reason why the second "that" can't refer to "life". The main clause, reduced to essentials, is:

"Equanimity is the ability to [...] attain a sense of balance within that [...] life."

Then "that both creates and embraces who we are and who we can become" is a relative clause qualifying "that [...] life". Why not?

Suppose we rephrase the same sentence with "activities" instead of "life":

"And equanimity is the ability to [...] attain a sense of balance within those rich inner and interpersonal activities that both create and embrace who we are and who we can become."

Here, obviously, "that create and embrace" can't refer to "balance", because the verbs are plural. They must refer to "activities". But the sentence is perfectly grammatical.

Alternatively, suppose it were like this:

"And equanimity is the ability to [...] attain a sense of balance within those rich inner and interpersonal activities that both creates and embraces who we are and who we can become."

This, too, is perfectly grammatical, but the verbs are singular, so the relative clause must refer to "balance".

Given that both are syntactically possible, the question, as I say, is which is more likely to be what the author meant: which is more likely to be what creates and embraces who we are: our inner and interpersonal life or a sense of balance within that inner and interpersonal life? I say the former.

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Note added at 19 hrs (2018-05-23 10:16:21 GMT)
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"That rich inner and interpersonal life that both creates and embraces who we are and who we can become" can perfectly well be a single unit, a noun phrase. We could say, for example:

"We need to focus all our attention on that rich inner and interpersonal life that both creates and embraces who we are and who we can become."

The relative clause can only refer to "life" here. But there's nothing grammatically wrong with the sentence.

Or you could even make it the subject:

"That rich inner and interpersonal life that both creates and embraces who we are and who we can become requires us to attain a sense of balance."

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Note added at 21 hrs (2018-05-23 12:40:14 GMT)
--------------------------------------------------

I don't think Yvonne is using American English; she's from Ireland, and I don't think there are any differences between British and Irish English grammar in this case. I can't really comment further because I still don't understand why she is so sure.

There is a slight difference between American and British English in the use of relative pronouns, specifically in the use of "which", though I don't think it's an issue here:

"Is there any difference between the use of that and which in sentences such as any book that gets children reading is worth having, and any book which gets children reading is worth having? The general rule in British English is that, in restrictive relative clauses, where the relative clause serves to define or restrict the reference to the particular one described, which can replace that. However, in non-restrictive relative clauses, where the relative clause serves only to give additional information, that cannot be used: this book, which is set in the last century, is very popular with teenagers but not this book, that is set in the last century, is very popular with teenagers. In US English which is generally used only for non-restrictive relative clauses."
https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/that#that__61

I think that it's debatable whether this relative clause is restrictive or non-restrictive, and equally debatable whether it refers to "balance" or to "life". To my ear, "which" could have been used instead of "that", since "that both creates and embraces who we are and who we can become" could be regarded as providing original information about "balance" or "life" rather than defining or restricting the reference. But as I say, this factor applies equally to both readings, in my opinion.
Selected response from:

Charles Davis
Spain
Local time: 18:27
Grading comment
Thank you very much for your help,Charles! I am still thinking about it, but considering the rest of the text I think it is very likely that "that"refers to "life"...
4 KudoZ points were awarded for this answer



Summary of answers provided
4 +32nd that relates to " sense of balance"
Yvonne Gallagher
4 +1"that creates and embraces" could refer either to "sense of balance" or to "rich [...] life"
Charles Davis


  

Answers


12 mins   confidence: Answerer confidence 4/5Answerer confidence 4/5 peer agreement (net): +3
balance within that inner and interpersonal life that creates us
2nd that relates to " sense of balance"


Explanation:
1st "that" relates to "rich inner and interpersonal life"

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Note added at 14 mins (2018-05-22 15:10:56 GMT)
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so just remove the subclause "within that rich inner and interpersonal life" and you are left with:

...attain a sense of balance ...that both creates and embraces who we are and who we can become.


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Note added at 29 mins (2018-05-22 15:26:14 GMT)
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I read it twice myself to be 100% sure but this is clearly the main clause so it cannot, grammatically, refer to "life" but it's about "sense of balance" (IN that life). In other sections he probably refers to life itself.

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Note added at 54 mins (2018-05-22 15:50:47 GMT)
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:-)

Yvonne Gallagher
Ireland
Local time: 17:27
Native speaker of: Native in EnglishEnglish
PRO pts in category: 39
Notes to answerer
Asker: Hi, Yvonne! Thank you for your help! I was wondering whether the 2nd "that" cannot but relate to "balance" or it might also relate to "life". My doubt derives from the fact that the author often says that our identity is shaped also by our relationships...

Asker: Thank you so much, Yvonne, really!


Peer comments on this answer (and responses from the answerer)
agree  Sheri P
9 mins
  -> Many thanks:-)

agree  philgoddard: I'm glad it's not me translating this waffle :-)
31 mins
  -> Thanks. Yeah, I did some of these in the past but generally say I'm busy now! My eyes tend to glaze over...

neutral  Charles Davis: I don't understand your argument about why it cannot grammatically refer to "life". / Yes, it's "attain a sense of balance in that life, which is what creates and embraces who we are". No grammatical problem as far as I can see.
5 hrs
  -> I see "that life..." as a sub. clause as it can't really stand alone as "that ...life...become". It's "attain a sense of balance..." NOT "attain...that life" (which would change the meaning).

agree  Tina Vonhof
7 hrs
  -> Many thanks:-)
Login to enter a peer comment (or grade)

6 hrs   confidence: Answerer confidence 4/5Answerer confidence 4/5 peer agreement (net): +1
balance within that inner and interpersonal life that creates us
"that creates and embraces" could refer either to "sense of balance" or to "rich [...] life"


Explanation:
"That both creates and embraces who we are" could refer to "a sense of balance", but there is no grammatical reason why it should not refer to "that rich inner and interpersonal life". Personally I think it's more likely to be the second, particularly if it's in line with what the author says elsewhere.

As Yvonne has explained, you could read it as "a sense of balance that both creates and embraces who we are", and take "within that inner and interpersonal life" as qualifying "a sense of balance". Alternatively, you could perfectly well take "that rich inner and interpersonal life that both creates and embraces who we are and who we can become" as a single unit. Neither reading can be excluded and both make grammatical sense. It's just a question of which is more likely. I think it's more likely — much more likely, in fact — that what creates and embraces our identity is our inner and interpersonal life itself rather than a sense of balance within that inner and interpersonal life. A sense of balance is no doubt desirable, but I don't think that sense of balance creates our identity; I think it's our life itself.

--------------------------------------------------
Note added at 19 hrs (2018-05-23 09:59:15 GMT)
--------------------------------------------------

I am quite sure that there is no grammatical reason why the second "that" can't refer to "life". The main clause, reduced to essentials, is:

"Equanimity is the ability to [...] attain a sense of balance within that [...] life."

Then "that both creates and embraces who we are and who we can become" is a relative clause qualifying "that [...] life". Why not?

Suppose we rephrase the same sentence with "activities" instead of "life":

"And equanimity is the ability to [...] attain a sense of balance within those rich inner and interpersonal activities that both create and embrace who we are and who we can become."

Here, obviously, "that create and embrace" can't refer to "balance", because the verbs are plural. They must refer to "activities". But the sentence is perfectly grammatical.

Alternatively, suppose it were like this:

"And equanimity is the ability to [...] attain a sense of balance within those rich inner and interpersonal activities that both creates and embraces who we are and who we can become."

This, too, is perfectly grammatical, but the verbs are singular, so the relative clause must refer to "balance".

Given that both are syntactically possible, the question, as I say, is which is more likely to be what the author meant: which is more likely to be what creates and embraces who we are: our inner and interpersonal life or a sense of balance within that inner and interpersonal life? I say the former.

--------------------------------------------------
Note added at 19 hrs (2018-05-23 10:16:21 GMT)
--------------------------------------------------

"That rich inner and interpersonal life that both creates and embraces who we are and who we can become" can perfectly well be a single unit, a noun phrase. We could say, for example:

"We need to focus all our attention on that rich inner and interpersonal life that both creates and embraces who we are and who we can become."

The relative clause can only refer to "life" here. But there's nothing grammatically wrong with the sentence.

Or you could even make it the subject:

"That rich inner and interpersonal life that both creates and embraces who we are and who we can become requires us to attain a sense of balance."

--------------------------------------------------
Note added at 21 hrs (2018-05-23 12:40:14 GMT)
--------------------------------------------------

I don't think Yvonne is using American English; she's from Ireland, and I don't think there are any differences between British and Irish English grammar in this case. I can't really comment further because I still don't understand why she is so sure.

There is a slight difference between American and British English in the use of relative pronouns, specifically in the use of "which", though I don't think it's an issue here:

"Is there any difference between the use of that and which in sentences such as any book that gets children reading is worth having, and any book which gets children reading is worth having? The general rule in British English is that, in restrictive relative clauses, where the relative clause serves to define or restrict the reference to the particular one described, which can replace that. However, in non-restrictive relative clauses, where the relative clause serves only to give additional information, that cannot be used: this book, which is set in the last century, is very popular with teenagers but not this book, that is set in the last century, is very popular with teenagers. In US English which is generally used only for non-restrictive relative clauses."
https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/that#that__61

I think that it's debatable whether this relative clause is restrictive or non-restrictive, and equally debatable whether it refers to "balance" or to "life". To my ear, "which" could have been used instead of "that", since "that both creates and embraces who we are and who we can become" could be regarded as providing original information about "balance" or "life" rather than defining or restricting the reference. But as I say, this factor applies equally to both readings, in my opinion.

Charles Davis
Spain
Local time: 18:27
Works in field
Native speaker of: Native in EnglishEnglish
PRO pts in category: 68
Grading comment
Thank you very much for your help,Charles! I am still thinking about it, but considering the rest of the text I think it is very likely that "that"refers to "life"...
Notes to answerer
Asker: thank you so much, Charles, for your explanation! I was wondering, though, whether there may be differences in grammar between British English and American English... Yvonne seems so sure... I agree with your position, Charles, but I'm not mothertongue... From a "semantic" point of view, having read the whole book, I tend to think your interpretation is right..

Asker: Thank you very much, indeed Charles for your contribution!


Peer comments on this answer (and responses from the answerer)
agree  Martin Riordan: I agree with your probability analysis!
1 hr
  -> Thanks, Martin :-)

neutral  Yvonne Gallagher: I don't see how "that life...become" could stand as a "single unit"? It's "attain a sense of balance..." not "attain..that life" (the meaning would change as it's about attaining "balance")
12 hrs
  -> Simple: "that life that creates and embraces who we are and who we can become" is the thing within which we need to attain a sense of balance; "that creates and [...] become" is a relative clause whose antecedent could be either "balance" or "life".
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