Your version is much improved, John.Perhaps a better rendition would be:
andhis wife and his sister, whobelieved that universal education was the way for children to escape from poverty and ignorance. They taught here in the early 19th century."
And, yes, English is a real mongrel language.
I have a 67 page book called "F*cking Apostrophes" devoted solely to the use and misuse of that punctuation mark. It's f*cking hilarious ...
I can't find anything odd in this sentence either."William Wordsworth and his wife and sister, who believed that universal education was the way for children to escape from poverty and ignorance, taught here in the early 19th century."
I see nothing odd with this sentence! (Except that I can't figure out if it was his sister or his wife's sister.)
How do you get from that sentence to teaching poverty or ignorance?
I am not a native English speaker so I might well be wrong.
Sure schools today might actually be teaching that, at least I find most young people both poor and ignorant! But again so was I at their age!
I agree that the sentence can be interpreted correctly, and that most readers would easily glean the intended meaning. However, the phrasing is clunky (at best) and allows for plenty of opportunity for being misread, especially at the quick glance most folks will afford such a plaque.I can't find anything odd in this sentence either.
@BosseBe: The rules of the English language are (mostly) not too confusing.
So if it was his sister's wife the sentence would read "W. W. and his wife and her sister ... ".
Definitely it's his own sister that's meant on the sign.
From one who tortured kids with English grammar for most of his life. ;-)