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I get the Guardian Weekly delivered. Over a cup of coffee today I read a sentence that I initially skipped past quickly. Then I went back and looked at it more closely. Eventually I pulled out a piece of paper to decode what it was saying. Six different countries are mentioned in the sentence. It's not a list of countries: every country is playing a different role in the story.

The sentence seemed complicated. It's certainly a very carefully thought out way of communicating a dense amount of information. My initial instinct is that a sub editor should have simplified it. There's an argument that if I needed to get a piece of paper out to understand it completely, then it lacks clarity. But on further contemplation, maybe it does its job well. The sentence was giving background information about a previous event. It appeared in the sixth paragraph of the article.

It was written by Simon Tisdall.

The sentence reads like this. (I include a lead in sentence to give it context):

The Bangkok arms seizure followed several recent incidents. In July, the French-owned, Bahamian-flagged ANL Australia bound for Iran was intercepted in the UAE after a US tip-off.

The full article is here.

Within the sentence we get the following information about six different countries:

The ship's owner France
The ship's country of registration Bahamas
Name of the ship ANL Australia
Final destination Iran
Place where ship was intercepted UAE
The country that gave the tip-off USA


Had Simon Tisdall wanted to squeeze a seventh country into this sentence, the option was open to him. The sentence doesn't mention the country at the heart of the article, North Korea.

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Anthony Holmes January 1st, 2010 05:19:58 PM

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