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I understand all of the words in this sentence, but I am struggling to parse the meaning by parsing the clauses.

Купить нашу продукцию оптом и в розницу можно в специализированных магазинах.

Is this sentence ambiguous? I understand two different possible meanings here, which is most likely correct?

  1. (Купить нашу продукцию оптом и в розницу) (можно в специализированных магазинах.) i.e. intending to say, our products can be bought wholesale and retail.

  2. (Купить нашу продукцию оптом) (и в розницу можно в специализированных магазинах.) i.e. intending to say that we ONLY sell wholesale, but you need to go to a specialized store to buy it in retail.

Although 1. is the more obvious translation, I think #2 has a more interesting specific meaning. Which meaning is obvious to a native speaker?

4 Answers 4

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No, there is no ambiguity.

(Купить нашу продукцию оптом) (и в розницу можно в специализированных магазинах.)

If you parse the sentence this way, then the first part of the sentence is meaningless. "Купить нашу продукцию оптом" is not a full sentence and does not convey anything meaningful. So in this case, only your first option is correct.


However, if you phrase it as

Купить нашу продукцию можно оптом и в розницу в специализированных магазинах.

then indeed it becomes somewhat ambiguous. It can be theoretically interpreted as "wholesale and retail in special stores", as well as "wholesale from us and retail in special stores". However, even here the second meaning sounds really contrived. (I would say that the second meaning is still incorrect, but bordering on the edge of a mistake that a native speaker can make.) There are two reasons for this.

Firstly, the sentence does not have anything that would correspond to "from us". If we consider that "в розницу в специализированных магазинах" is separate, and "оптом" is separate, then it is not clear where one can buy products wholesale. It may be implied by context, but no such context is given.

Secondly, this meaning assumes some contrast between the two parts (оптом vs в розницу), so a more natural way would be at least to use a comma before "и" (still somewhat contrived):

Купить нашу продукцию можно оптом, и в розницу — в специализированных магазинах.

And it's even better to use "а" instead of "и" (absolutely natural, if context explains where you buy wholesale):

Купить нашу продукцию можно оптом, а в розницу — в специализированных магазинах.

Both cases would also require a dash (as shown), because the verb ("купить") is omitted in the second part.

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  • A very good and thorough answer!
    – Quassnoi
    Dec 20, 2022 at 15:26
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I'm a native speaker and I would understand this sentence like this:
Купить нашу продукцию (оптом и в розницу) можно в специализированных магазинах
There are certain specialized stores and you can buy our products there wholesale and retail. Why these stores are specialized - who knows.

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I agree that there's no ambiguity. Why? Because there is a coordinate conjunction «и» (соединительный союз). Соединять means to connect, it is equal to +.

Оптом и в розницу = (оптом + в розницу)

For contrast we use another conjunction «a», and you will have to change the sentence.

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Нет двусмысленности. Продукция подаётся в специализированных магазинах и там ее можно приобрести как оптом, так и в розницу.

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