Does “So as long as” mean the same as “Just as long as” in this sentence?

I have a question regarding a sentence in this Meta post:

Votes reversed by the detection script can be re-cast by the user at a later time, so long as the user does not again engage in serial voting which causes them to be reversed (yet again).

It says “so long as the user does not again engage in serial voting”, which I’d expect to be followed by a comma, and then followed by what would happen if the user does not engage in serial voting. But instead, it gets followed by “which”.

For example, I’d expect a sentence to flow like:

… so as long as it suits you, I wouldn’t mind.

But the sentence in the Meta post flows like:

… so as long as it suits you which I wouldn’t mind.

I’ve been told that it means the same as

… just as long as it suits you I wouldn’t mind.

Is this true? Is it that using a so gives the same meaning as using a just in this case?

Answer

It has been my experience that occasionally younger speakers who are comparatively unfamiliar with the forms and styles of written English can become confused by so..as, and that they do not use this construction themselves. Whether that’s your situation I can’t say, but I’ve definitely come across this before.

What I do know, however, is that your rewrite to *so as long as is ungrammatical. You cannot use them together that way. That’s because so as together like that is normally followed by an infinitive denoting result or consequence, as in

To repair the drain so as to abate the nuisance complained of.

It means “in order to” then. There is also a sense of so as that is equivalent to provided that, as in

I care not how you come by them, so as they are ready to supply my wants.

That would be more like how so long as is used; it’s as though the long were elided.

The OED says that so long as can mean “during the whole time that” and further notes that this sense is “Frequently with a conditional implication”. They also say that it can mean “provided that” or “if only”. It therefore stipulates a condition during which time some previous predicate (can) continue to hold true, to apply.

In this case, that predicate happens to be the “recastability” of votes in Votes can be recast, and the stipulation for its continued application is that the user not again engage in serial voting.

Here therefore are various ways of saying the same thing as the original said:

  • Votes reversed by the detection script can be recast by the user at a
    later time, on condition that the user does not reëngage in serial voting
    causing them to be again reversed.

  • Votes reversed by the detection script can be cast again later by the user,
    provided that they not reëngage in serial voting and so causes those new
    votes to be re-reversed.

  • Votes reversed by the detection script can be cast again later by the user,
    if only that user doesn’t return to serial voting and so causes those
    recast votes to be reversed as well.

  • If the user does not reëngage in serial voting and so again trigger the
    serial-voting detection script, then they are allowed to recast votes the
    script had reversed earlier.

  • Votes reversed by the detection script can be recast later by the user
    provided that they not reëngage in serial voting, which would again
    be reversed by the script.

  • If the serial-vote detection script reverses a user’s votes, then unless
    that user again engages in serial-voting when doing so, they are permitted
    to recast those reversed votes; however, if they do return to serial voting,
    those new serial votes will also be reversed just like the previous ones.

  • If the serial-vote detection script reverses a user’s votes, they are
    permitted to recast those reversed votes unless they again engage in
    serial-voting to do so, in which case the script would also reverse
    their new votes just as it had their earlier ones.

  • Provided that the user not reëngage in serial voting to do so, they are
    free to recast votes reversed by the detection script. But if they recast
    them as part of another serial-voting spree, the script will reverse those
    new votes, too.

  • Provided only that the user not vote serially to do so, we allow that user
    to recast the same votes which the detection script had earlier reversed.

  • As long as the user avoids voting serially when doing so, they are able to
    recast votes previously reversed by the detection script.

The reason why the original used so long as instead of as long as is because
the condition was stated as a negative, and the OED says that so..as is preferred
when this equative construction is used in negative or interrogative contexts. That means that for such speakers as use it, it’s a form of negative concord triggered by negative polarity items. Here are a few of their citations of this:

  • 1672 J. Dryden Conquest Granada ɪ. ɪɪ. i. 13
    His Victories we scarce could keep in view, Or polish ’em so fast as he rough drew.
  • 1763 C. Johnstone Reverie (new ed.) I. 260
    This is not so strange or ingrateful as it may appear.
  • 1779 Mirror No. 58
    Emilia, who now observed that her husband was nowhere so happy as in the country.
  • 1842 Ld. Tennyson Morte d’Arthur in Poems (new ed.) II. 11
    I never saw,..So great a miracle as yonder hilt.
  • 1849 T. B. Macaulay Hist. Eng. I. ᴠ. 667
    Never..had the condition of the Puritans been so deplorable as at that time.

They further note that using so..as in affirmative clauses where as..as would now normally be used is today considered archaic or dialect speech, except in such phrases as so far as and so much as.


See Also

Attribution
Source : Link , Question Author : re you here , Answer Author : tchrist

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