The Arch has encouraged some new building downtown.

diamondcutter

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The Arch has encouraged some new building downtown--the old downtown that it was presumably designed to anchor having drifted out into the county by the time the Arch was completed.
(NY 6/16/80, 108)
Source: The Semantic variability of Absolute Constructions, Gregory T. Stump

I’ve tried my best to understand this sentence. Here is my paraphrasing.

Some new building downtown has followed the style of the Arch. The old downtown was probably designed to last for a long time but it has disappeared in the county by the time the Arch was completed.

This is as far as I can go. Would you please help me?
 

jutfrank

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Why not just find a better example? It's important that you understand the meaning of the sentence very well before you try to analyse the structure.

Also, I think the issue you need to deal with is not the grammar of these absolute constructions so much as the usage. For this, you need to look at use in context. It's not a lot of good focusing on isolated uncontextualised sentences.
 

diamondcutter

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I have to admit it’s my curiosity that caused me to ask the question. I know I have to control it now.
 

SoothingDave

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I assume this is about St Louis, which has a giant Arch as a landmark/attraction. Symbolizing the gateway through which many settlers of the American West crossed. St Louis at the time was the final stop in "civilization" before wagon trains headed out west.

It's nothing to do with buildings "following the style" of the Arch. The Arch was conceived as an attraction that would bring people downtown, to patronize businesses there. In the time it took to make the Arch a reality, the downtown businesses had already moved to locations outside the big city as customers chose the free parking and convenience over the hassle of going into the city.

However, new buildings and new businesses were able to set up in the downtown.

That's a lot of information that you would have no way of knowing from just reading that sentence in isolation.
 

Phaedrus

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The Arch has encouraged some new building downtown-- [. . .]

Here is my paraphrasing.

Some new building downtown has followed the style of the Arch. The old downtown was probably designed to last for a long time but it has disappeared in the county by the time the Arch was completed.
Hi, Diamondcutter:—

I'd like to focus on the part of your paraphrase which does not concern the absolute construction. Where you say "Some new building downtown has followed the style . . . ," you seem to be thinking of one specific building rather than of the activity of building.

Although "some new building" is a noun phrase in that sentence, the head of it is a gerund rather than a lexical noun: it refers to the activity of building rather than to a particular structure on a city block. Thus, we could not pluralize the noun ("The Arch has encouraged some new buildings downtown") and preserve the meaning.

I believe that my interpretation of "building" as a gerund is in keeping with SoothingDave's explication of the significance of the Arch, which evidently stimulated (the/some) building of new buildings [the/some (gerund) of new (plural noun)] in the downtown area.
 
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