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  1. #31
    Phaedrus's Avatar
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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.
    Quote Originally Posted by Alexey86 View Post
    (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'.
    I agree with you, Alexey, that the clauses shouldn't give the impression of being randomly combined.

    However, that point holds for any combination of clauses where one clause is syntactically subordinated to another. I really don't think the relationship between an "as"-clause with preposing and the main clause needs to be anaphoric. The following examples illustrate this:

    (3) Strong as John is, Steve has the muscles we need. (contrastive/concessive)
    (4) Strong as Apollo Creed was, Rocky had a lot of training to do. (circumstantial)

    In (3) and (4), no pronouns are used, and each clause makes no reference to the other. Nevertheless, they are related. Sentence (3) means "Even though John is strong, Steve has the muscles we need," and (4) means "With Apollo Creed being as strong as he was, Rocky had a lot of training to do."

    Also, remember that the subject of the main clause is not being compared to the subject of the "as"-clause. Just as "Strong as John is, Bill can lift it easily" does not imply that Bill is as strong as John, so also (2) does not imply that people are as wet as the floor is, or (4) that Rocky was as strong as Apollo Creed.

  2. #32
    Alexey86 is offline Senior Member
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    Re: Strong as he is (meanings)

    Quote Originally Posted by Phaedrus View Post
    However, that point holds for any combination of clauses where one clause is syntactically subordinated to another. I really don't think the relationship between an "as"-clause with preposing and the main clause needs to be anaphoric. The following examples illustrate this:

    (3) Strong as John is, Steve has the muscles we need. (contrastive/concessive)
    (4) Strong as Apollo Creed was, Rocky had a lot of training to do. (circumstantial)

    In (3) and (4), no pronouns are used, and each clause makes no reference to the other. Nevertheless, they are related. Sentence (3) means "Even though John is strong, Steve has the muscles we need," and (4) means "With Apollo Creed being as strong as he was, Rocky had a lot of training to do."
    You're right, anaphoric reference isn't necessary, but if we use it, the meaning will shift from contrastive to circumstantial and vice versa:

    Strong as John is, Steve has the muscles we need. (contrastive/concessive)
    Strong as John is, he has the muscle we need. (circumstantial)

    Strong as Apollo Creed was, Rocky had a lot of training to do. (circumstantial)
    Strong as Apollo Creed was, he had a lot of training to do. (contrastive/concessive)

    What do you think?
    Last edited by Alexey86; 17-Oct-2020 at 23:32.
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  3. #33
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    Re: Strong as he is (meanings)

    Quote Originally Posted by Alexey86 View Post
    You're right, anaphoric reference isn't necessary, but if we use it, the meaning will shift from contrastive to circumstantial and vice versa: . . . What do you think?
    Although I find your attempt to come up with such a generalization commendable, Alexey, I don't think that that particular generalization holds true.

    (5) Popular as he is, he will have an easy time winning the election. (circumstantial)
    (6) Popular as he is, he will have a difficult time winning the election. (contrastive/concessive)

    In both (5) and (6), the two instances of he are co-referent. The only difference is that (5) uses an easy time and (6) a difficult time. If my fellow natives join me in finding (5) and (6) equally acceptable, the anaphoric relationship between the clauses must make no difference in how the as-clauses are interpreted.
    Last edited by Phaedrus; 18-Oct-2020 at 07:28. Reason: typo: "off"->"of"

  4. #34
    Alexey86 is offline Senior Member
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    Re: Strong as he is (meanings)

    Quote Originally Posted by Phaedrus View Post
    (5) Popular as he is, he will have an easy time winning the election. (circumstantial)
    (6) Popular as he is, he will have a difficult time winning the election. (contrastive/concessive)

    ...the anaphoric relationship between the clauses must make no difference in how the as-clauses are interpreted.
    If we change reference we'll change the type of as-clause. And making things more complicated, if we insert a comparison in a contrastive non-anaphoric sentence, it'll become circumstantial (5a -> 5b). But if we insert a comparison in a circumstantial non-anaphoric sentence, it'll become contrasive (6a -> 6b):

    (5) Popular as he is, he will have an easy time winning the election. (anaphoric/circumstantial)
    (5a) Popular as John is, Bill will have an easy time winning the election. (non-anaphoric//contrastive/concessive)
    (5b) Being as popular as John is, Bill will have an easy time winning the election. (non-anaphoric/circumstantial)

    (6) Popular as he is, he will have a difficult time winning the election. (anaphoric//contrastive/concessive)
    (6a) Popular as John is, Bill will have a difficult time winning the election. (non-anaphoric/circumstantial)
    (6b) Being as popular as John is, Bill will have a difficult time winning the election. (non-anaphoric/contrastive)
    Last edited by Alexey86; 18-Oct-2020 at 10:32.
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  5. #35
    Phaedrus's Avatar
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    Re: Strong as he is (meanings)

    Quote Originally Posted by Alexey86 View Post
    If we change reference we'll change the type of as-clause. And making things more complicated, if we insert a comparison in a contrastive non-anaphoric sentence, it'll become circumstantial (5a -> 5b). But if we insert a comparison in a circumstantial non-anaphoric sentence, it'll become contrasive (6a -> 6b):

    (5) Popular as he is, he will have an easy time winning the election. (anaphoric/circumstantial)
    (5a) Popular as John is, Bill will have an easy time winning the election. (non-anaphoric//contrastive/concessive)
    (5b) Being as popular as John is, Bill will have an easy time winning the election. (non-anaphoric/circumstantial)

    (6) Popular as he is, he will have a difficult time winning the election. (anaphoric//contrastive/concessive)
    (6a) Popular as John is, Bill will have a difficult time winning the election. (non-anaphoric/circumstantial)
    (6b) Being as popular as John is, Bill will have a difficult time winning the election. (non-anaphoric/contrastive)
    Remember, the type with "being" -- exemplified by (5b) and (6b) -- is a completely different type of "as"-clause. You can't conclude anything about the type of "as"-clause that we're talking about, which is not a comparative structure, by looking at clauses of that other type.

    Regarding your conclusions about (5a) and (6a), suppose John is a celebrity who is on Bill's campaign team. Doesn't the interpretation change from contrastive/concessive to circumstantial in the case of (5a), and from circumstantial to contrastive/concessive in the case of (6a)?

    Native speakers aren't performing advanced calculus with anaphora here. We're simply attending to meaning in context.
    Last edited by Phaedrus; 18-Oct-2020 at 12:53. Reason: OK, l shall accept this thread's being moved to the almost-never-visited Linguistics sub-forum. I shall not jump ship.

  6. #36
    Alexey86 is offline Senior Member
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    Re: Strong as he is (meanings)

    Quote Originally Posted by Phaedrus View Post
    Remember, the type with "being" -- exemplified by (5b) and (6b) -- is a completely different type of "as"-clause. You can't conclude anything about the type of "as"-clause that we're talking about, which is not a comparative structure, by looking at clauses of that other type.
    Sorry, maybe I'm missing something, but that's exactly what I was talking about: making a comparative sentence by adding "being", we change the type of as-clause.

    Quote Originally Posted by Phaedrus View Post
    Regarding your conclusions about (5a) and (6a), suppose John is a celebrity who is on Bill's campaign team. Doesn't the interpretation change from contrastive/concessive to circumstantial in the case of (5a), and from circumstantial to contrastive/concessive in the case of (6a)?
    I agree that only wider context can clarify the type of as-clause. Given that as + adj + as means to the extent that/of, and that extent can be either great or little (which means that popular as he is can mean popular to a little extent as he is) we've come to at least twelve options:

    (5) Popular as he is, he will have an easy time winning the election. (anaphoric/circumstantial)
    (5a) Popular as he is (= surprisingly, but although he's unpopular), he will have an easy time winning the election. (anaphoric/contrastive)
    (5b) Popular as John is, Bill will have an easy time winning the election. (non-anaphoric//contrastive/concessive)
    (5c) Popular as John is, Bill will have an easy time winning the election. (non-anaphoric/circumstantial)
    (5d) Being as popular as John is, Bill will have an easy time winning the election. (comparative/non-anaphoric/circumstantial)
    (5e) Being as popular as John is, Bill will have an easy time winning the election. (comparative/non-anaphoric/contrastive)

    (6) Popular as he is, he will have a difficult time winning the election. (anaphoric//contrastive/concessive)
    (6a) (ironically) Popular as he is (= given his unpopularity), he will have a difficult time winning the election. (anaphoric/circumstantial)
    (6b) Popular as John is, Bill will have a difficult time winning the election. (non-anaphoric/circumstantial)
    (6c) Popular as John is, Bill will have a difficult time winning the election. (non-anaphoric/contrastive/concessive)
    (6d) Being as popular as John is, Bill will have a difficult time winning the election. (comparative/non-anaphoric/contrastive)
    (6e) Being as popular as John is, Bill will have a difficult time winning the election. (comparative/non-anaphoric/circumstantial)

    Phew!
    Last edited by Alexey86; 18-Oct-2020 at 13:48.
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  7. #37
    Alexey86 is offline Senior Member
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    Re: Strong as he is (meanings)

    Quote Originally Posted by Piscean View Post
    I'd say that 5a and 6a are very unlikely, 5d, 5e. 6e and 6e are very unnatural, 6b ad 6c are unlikely.

    Your theoretical linguist may have twelve options, but the majority would never be uttered by most native speakers.
    I understand that. Analyzing rare, unlikely, unnatural but still grammatical variants gives me a better understanding of English.
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  8. #38
    Phaedrus's Avatar
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    Re: Strong as he is (meanings)

    Quote Originally Posted by Alexey86 View Post
    Sorry, maybe I'm missing something, but that's exactly what I was talking about: making a comparative sentence by adding "being", we change the type of as-clause.
    Why would you want to change the type of "as"-clause to a type that is different from the one you are trying to understand?

    If one were trying to understand the nature of beer, would it help to change beer into wine and analyze wine?

    Quote Originally Posted by Alexey86 View Post
    I agree that only wider context can clarify the type of as-clause. Given that as + adj + as means to the extent that/of, and that extent can be either great or little (which means that popular as he is can mean popular to a little extent as he is) we've come to at least twelve options: . . . Phew!
    I really don't think we needed to be banished to Siberia (the Linguistics sub-forum of Using English) discussing twelve permutations when it had already been shown that anaphora is irrelevant to determining whether the interpretation is contrastive/concessive or circumstantial, that putting being at the front changes the nature of the construction altogether (such that the two types of structure should not be analyzed together), and that any given case can potentially go either way.

    There aren't twelve relevant options. There are two: circumstantial and contrastive/concessive. The reason I entered this thread was to demonstrate that the circumstantial interpretation is possible and received in respected grammatical literature. I have accomplished that goal. Showing that sentences which seemingly need the one interpretation or the other can be pushed the other way be imagining a different context was icing on the cake. I do not see the need for twelve permutations.

  9. #39
    Alexey86 is offline Senior Member
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    Re: Strong as he is (meanings)

    Quote Originally Posted by Phaedrus View Post
    Why would you want to change the type of "as"-clause to a type that is different from the one you are trying to understand?
    I didn't distinguish them well at the beginning. Changing one into the other has helped me better understand both.

    Quote Originally Posted by Phaedrus View Post
    Showing that sentences which seemingly need the one interpretation or the other can be pushed the other way be imagining a different context was icing on the cake.
    To me, it was the cake.

    Quote Originally Posted by Phaedrus View Post
    The reason I entered this thread was to demonstrate that the circumstantial interpretation is possible and received in respected grammatical literature. I have accomplished that goal.
    Then, we can end the discussion. Thank you.
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