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  1. #21
    Phaedrus's Avatar
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    Re: Strong as he is (meanings)

    Quote Originally Posted by Alexey86 View Post
    Would 2a work if I compared two different people?

    Strong as he is, he can lift it -> Strong as John is, Bill can lift it easily.

    I've also found this example: As smart as she is, she is equally funny. (Huffington Post) Is it correct? I see no contrast here.
    I see no reason to strike out or find fault with Strong as he is, he can lift it, which sounds natural to me, as does Strong as he is, he can't lift it.

    Quirk et al. (A Comprehensive Grammar of the English Language, 1985) say as-clauses with fronting can be concessive/contrastive or circumstantial.

    Their example of the concessive/contrastive variety is "Naked as I was, I braved the storm. ['Even though I was naked, . . .']" (Section 15.39, p. 1098).

    Their example of the circumstantial variety is Tired as they were, they went to bed as soon as they came back" (Section 15.47, p. 1107).

    The former example parallels the semantic relationships in Alexey's (1a) and (4a); the latter parallels the semantic relationships in his (2a) and (3a).

  2. #22
    Alexey86 is offline Senior Member
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    Re: Strong as he is (meanings)

    Quote Originally Posted by Phaedrus View Post
    I see no reason to strike out or find fault with Strong as he is, he can lift it, which sounds natural to me, as does Strong as he is, he can't lift it.
    But 'Strong as John is, Bill can lift it easily' is definitely wrong because both clauses must talk about one and the same person, right? Without 'being as', the first clause requires the second one to talk about John too.
    Last edited by Alexey86; 16-Oct-2020 at 22:01.
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  3. #23
    Tarheel's Avatar
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    Re: Strong as he is (meanings)

    Quote Originally Posted by Alexey86 View Post
    This variant is slightly different in meaning from the being one. To my ear, John can implies that John has in fact lifted it, while the being variant doesn't. Of course, I might be just hard of hearing. I'm just talking about your particular example. I understand that if someone replies 'I can' to 'Can you help me?', it doesn't imply this person has helped the one who asks before.
    Two things. One, that is rather confusing (to me). Two, if somebody says he can do something that does not imply anything. He is simply saying it.

    P.S. You are, unfortunately, misusing the word imply.
    Last edited by Rover_KE; 17-Oct-2020 at 07:50. Reason: fixing typo
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  4. #24
    Alexey86 is offline Senior Member
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    Re: Strong as he is (meanings)

    Quote Originally Posted by Tarheel View Post
    Two, if somebody says he can do something that does not imply anything. He is simply saying it.
    I can't agree. We never simply say anything. But that's a different topic.
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  5. #25
    Phaedrus's Avatar
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    Re: Strong as he is (meanings)

    Quote Originally Posted by Alexey86 View Post
    But 'Strong as John is, Bill can lift it easily' is definitely wrong because both clauses must talk about one and the same person, right? Without 'being as', the first clause requires the second one to talk about John too.
    Hello again, Alexey:

    Let me give this another shot. As you can see, I have deleted my previous answer to your follow-up question. After massaging this topic in my mind for the better part of the afternoon, I realized that it was inaccurate of me to represent "As John is strong" as a viable paraphrase of the circumstantial interpretation of "Strong as John is." I also disagree with my affirmative answer to your question about whether both clauses must share the same subject. Consider the following sentences:

    (1) Wet as the floor is, people could very easily slip on it.
    (2) Wet as the floor is, there is little risk of people slipping on it.

    In neither of those sentences does the main clause have the same subject as the "as"-clause. In the "as"-clauses, the subject is "the floor"; in the main clauses, the subjects are "people" and "there," respectively. (The logical subject of [2] is "little risk of people slipping on it," which is also not the same as "the floor.") This shows that the subject need not be the same, on either interpretation of the "as"-clause. Also, note that if you preceded (1) with "Being (as)," the sentence would imply that people are wet!

    Here is how I would now paraphrase the two sentences. Each has an "as"-clause that receives a different interpretation from that of the other.

    (1') With the floor being as wet as it is, people could very easily slip on it. (circumstantial interpretation)
    (2') As wet as the floor is, there is little risk of people slipping on it. (concessive/contrastive interpretation)

    The second paraphrase (the paraphrase of the concessive/contrastive type) is borrowed from Quirk et al., who point out that clauses like "Wet as the floor is" or "Strong as John is" can be regarded as the "as . . . as . . ." construction with the first "as" omitted. They do not give a paraphrase of the circumstantial interpretation. Earlier, I conveniently supposed that it could be like an "as"-clause of reason ("As John is strong" / "As the floor is wet"), but now I see that that paraphrase doesn't work at all.

    The circumstantial reading of such "as"-clauses, which I believe is properly matched in meaning by the "With [subject] being as [adjective] as [subject] is" construction, "as" indicates the extent or degree to which the subject has the property denoted by the adjective. In the sentence "Strong as John is, he can lift it easily," "as" can be replaced by "to the extent that" -- on the circumstantial reading of the "as"-clause. The sentence says that, because John is strong to the extent that he is, he can lift it easily.

  6. #26
    jutfrank's Avatar
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    Re: Strong as he is (meanings)

    Quote Originally Posted by jutfrank View Post
    2a and 3a are not good. The (as) adjective + as + subject + be pattern is used primarily when the following clause is contrastive, as it is in 1a. For that reason, they don't work.
    I just want to make it clear that when I said 2a and 3a don't work, I was thinking like a teacher. I don't deny of course that the structure is used with the circumstantial meaning. My aim was to focus Alexey86's attention on the contrastive use, which I believe is far more useful since it is in my judgement far more common. Pedagogically speaking, I don't think the circumstantial use is useful enough to teach. What's more, as I said, I think replacing as with though is much more effective in achieving the contrast.

  7. #27
    Phaedrus's Avatar
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    Re: Strong as he is (meanings)

    Quote Originally Posted by jutfrank View Post
    I just want to make it clear that when I said 2a and 3a don't work, I was thinking like a teacher. I don't deny of course that the structure is used with the circumstantial meaning. My aim was to focus Alexey86's attention on the contrastive use, which I believe is far more useful since it is in my judgement far more common. Pedagogically speaking, I don't think the circumstantial use is useful enough to teach. What's more, as I said, I think replacing as with though is much more effective in achieving the contrast.
    In some cases, it can be hard to tell whether it is circumstantial or contrastive meaning that is intended. Consider this example:

    "Hideous and obscure as it all was, it held Mrs Grose briefly silent; . . . ."

    - Henry James, The Turn of the Screw,
    from Chapter 21
    Was Mrs. Grose held briefly silent because of (the extent of) the hideousness and obscurity of it all, or in spite of the hideousness and obscurity of it all? One's interpretation will depend on whether one perceives hideousness and obscurity as things that generally make one silent or as things that generally make one quite vocal.

  8. #28
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    Re: Strong as he is (meanings)

    The word "as" is tricky at times, isn't it?
    It might not be relevant to this discussion, but there's a sentence the construction of which I have difficulty explaining to my students:

    Living as I do in such a remote place, I seldom have visitors.

  9. #29
    jutfrank's Avatar
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    Re: Strong as he is (meanings)

    Quote Originally Posted by tzfujimino View Post
    Living as I do in such a remote place, I seldom have visitors.
    The sense there is causative.

    (I read Phaedrus' 'Mrs Grose' example above as causative too. I can't really get the contrastive reading very well.)

  10. #30
    Alexey86 is offline Senior Member
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    Re: Strong as he is (meanings)

    Quote Originally Posted by Phaedrus View Post

    (1) Wet as the floor is, people could very easily slip on it.
    (2) Wet as the floor is, there is little risk of people slipping on it.

    In neither of those sentences does the main clause have the same subject as the "as"-clause.
    (1) and (2) make perfect sense to me because it refers anaphoricaly. Anaphora sets up a semantic bond between the clauses. Maybe this is more important than whether a sentence has one or more subjects. 'Strong as John is, Bill can lift it easily' has no anaphora, that's why it comes across as a random combination of clauses and doesn't make much sense without 'being as'.
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