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#166810 - 03/14/07 09:37 PM "Improve its weaknesses" - Right or wrong?  
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heni79 Offline
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heni79  Offline
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I have a dilemma of semantic nature. I would love to
hear everyone's opinions. Read the following sentence:

"Our results could help STING to enhance the strengths
of the program and improve its weaknesses."

Let's focus on this part of the sentence: "improve its weaknesses." In this sense it means 'eliminate/lessen weaknesses'. It DOES NOT mean 'heighten weaknesses'.

1. Do you think the intended meaning of the sentence
comes across adequately?

2. Would you say it is flat out incorrect to use the
above mentioned phrasing?

3. Do you think there is any semantic difference
between "improve its weaknesses" and "improve on/upon
its weaknesses"? If a preposition is added (on/upon),
does that clarify the meaning of the sentence in any
way? Does it REALLY serve anything, or is it just a
'filler'?

A bet is riding on this, so I hope everyone will give
their input regarding this issue.

Thanks!
Heni

#166814 - 03/15/07 12:12 AM Re: "Improve its weaknesses" - Right or wrong? [Re: heni79]  
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Zed Offline
Pooh-Bah
Zed  Offline
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British Columbia, Canada
Hi Heni
I understand what is meant quite clearly but I would still call it incorrect. On/upon sounds correct though.
(did I win anything??)

#166818 - 03/15/07 12:22 AM Re: "Improve its weaknesses" - Right or wrong? [Re: heni79]  
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sjmaxq Offline
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sjmaxq  Offline
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Te Ika a Maui
Would replacing "improve" with "ameliorate" be allowable?

#166819 - 03/15/07 12:50 AM Re: "Improve its weaknesses" - Right or wrong? [Re: Zed]  
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heni79 Offline
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heni79  Offline
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Originally Posted By: Zed
I would still call it incorrect. On/upon sounds correct though. (did I win anything??)


But why exactly is it incorrect? And how come it is correct when you add on/upon? Doesn't it have the exact same meaning as before? When I read the two alternatives aloud to myself, they had the same meaning to me. Is it just me? I should point out that I am not a naitive speaker of English.

Thanks for responding to my message, BTW! :-)

Heni

#166820 - 03/15/07 12:56 AM Re: "Improve its weaknesses" - Right or wrong? [Re: sjmaxq]  
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heni79 Offline
stranger
heni79  Offline
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Originally Posted By: sjmaxq
Would replacing "improve" with "ameliorate" be allowable?


I discussed this with a friend (replacing "improve"), and the best alternative that we could come up with was "amend its weaknesses." But if I absolutely want to keep "improve", is the preposition really necessary?

Thanks for posting your input! :-)

Heni

#166821 - 03/15/07 01:07 AM Re: "Improve its weaknesses" - Right or wrong? [Re: heni79]  
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olly Offline
old hand
olly  Offline
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Joined: Dec 2006
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Auckland, New Zealand
Kia ora Heni,
At first glance I read 'Lessen weaknesses' then I saw the the error, i.e.'Heighten weaknesses' so,
1. Yes, In context it would be read as intended.
2. Yes, it is incorrect.
3. Why not, 'Lessen it's weaknesses'

Are you for it being o.k.?

#166822 - 03/15/07 01:24 AM Re: "Improve its weaknesses" - Right or wrong? [Re: heni79]  
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tsuwm Offline
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this too shall pass
I think that "improve (upon) its weaknesses" is a weak construction in either case, although use of the prep. soounds slightly better. You want to lessen or mitigate or alleviate its weaknesses.

as to improve v. improve upon:
The difference between these two may be that in the latter you are coming up with something separate. If you improve my recipe, you modify my recipe. If you improve upon it, you are coming up with a separate recipe of your own touted to be better.

#166848 - 03/15/07 04:27 PM Re: "Improve its weaknesses" - Right or wrong? [Re: tsuwm]  
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ParkinT Offline
enthusiast
ParkinT  Offline
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Orlando
I agree that "improve its weaknesses" is contrary to the intended meaning.
It would be better to simply state, "reduce its weaknesses".


"I am certain there is too much certainty in the world" -Michael Crichton
#166850 - 03/15/07 04:27 PM Re: "Improve its weaknesses" - Right or wrong? [Re: heni79]  
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Myridon Offline
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Myridon  Offline
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Dallas, TX
I agree that it is obvious what you mean even though it's not what you say.

IMO, "improve upon" is worse than "improve". As said above, I'd say it almost means we'll come up with new and improved weaknesses.

I'd just change the word - ameliorate is a little obscure, so how about "overcome its weaknesses", "triumph over its weaknesses", etc.

#166858 - 03/15/07 06:36 PM Re: "Improve its weaknesses" - Right or wrong? [Re: heni79]  
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Aramis Offline
addict
Aramis  Offline
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SE US
1. No. It is likely to be understood anyway since a literal interpretation will be dismissed as nonsense [especially by the apologist crowd (They know who they are) ].

2. Yes, unless the literal meaning is intended.

3. Yes. "[I]mprove on/upon" at least lends a degree of separation between the verb and object, albeit not as an adequate improvement. Agreed that "improve upon" does sound as if to imply replacement vice adjustment, but it still 'improves upon' the lame construction given.


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