What is the function of the "as"?

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What is the function of the "as"?

Postby pdh0224 » Sun Sep 05, 2004 9:31 am

Dear teacher,

Even in the places where Jews undoubtedly achieved prominence, as in Hollywood, it is worth wondering whether they did so as Jews or as Americans. In loving the movies, did mainstream America learn to have Jewish dreams, or did the immigrant Jews of Hollywood simply learn to have American dreams?

Q : What is the function of "as" in the sentence? I think it is an adverb. What do you think?


All the best, :)

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Postby p.patrick » Sun Sep 05, 2004 10:17 am

"as" here is a prep

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Postby Alan » Mon Sep 06, 2004 9:09 am

Sorry to disagree, but 'as' here is a predicate-focused sentential relative pronoun: the phrase is elliptical for 'as THEY DID in Hollywood', with the antecedent being the nominalized predication of the main clause (= their achieving prominence...).

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Postby pdh0224 » Mon Sep 06, 2004 7:38 pm

Alan wrote:Sorry to disagree, but 'as' here is a predicate-focused sentential relative pronoun: the phrase is elliptical for 'as THEY DID in Hollywood', with the antecedent being the nominalized predication of the main clause (= their achieving prominence...).


I see what you mean. I thought you consider about the structure "as in Hollywood" don't modify anything in the given sentence. The reason I think about it like that is because the antecedent nominalized phrase you mentioned doesn't exist in the sentence. "their achieving prominence..." is only in your thought. Conclusively, There is no something modified by "as in Hollywood" in the sentnence because there is not "their achieving prominence..." in the sentence. How could it be possible? That is, How could it be possible that something in a sentence modify not a surface part (..Jews undoubtedly achieved prominence..) but a meaning (their achieving prominence...)in our thought?

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Postby pdh0224 » Mon Sep 06, 2004 7:58 pm

I have an another idea.

Even in the places where Jews undoubtedly achieved prominence, as (prominence) in Hollywood,

The meaning and function of the "as" is same with a proposition "like". It specifies "achieved prominence". It make Readers know "the places" refers to "Hollywood"


What do you think?

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Postby Alan » Tue Sep 07, 2004 11:35 am

pdh wrote:The reason I think about it like that is because the antecedent nominalized phrase you mentioned doesn't exist in the sentence. "their achieving prominence..." is only in your thought. Conclusively, There is no something modified by "as in Hollywood" in the sentnence because there is not "their achieving
******************************************************

It doesn't need to exist explicitly: the phrase is putatively nominalized, just as the entire clause (Mozart was a genius) that constitutes the antecedent of the objective sentential 'as' of

Mozart was a genius, AS you probably know.

is putatively nominalized as 'THE FACT THAT Mozart was a genius'. Without at least putative nominalization, the label 'antecedent' is meaningless, either for a clause or a predication, since a relative pronoun, by definition, refers to a nominal element - i.e. a noun or noun substitute.

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Postby Alan » Tue Sep 07, 2004 11:49 am

The meaning and function of the "as" is same with a proposition "like". It specifies "achieved prominence". It make Readers know "the places" refers to "Hollywood"

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Not really. 'As' is never a true preposition: the closest that it ever gets to this word-class is when it functions as quasi-prepositional conjunction, as in

AS your friend, I must advise you to act quickly.

in which it has a very specific meaning, that of 'acting/speaking in the role or capacity of...'.

Plainly it does not have that meaning in the case in question (that is, the phrase in the original sentence under consideration does not mean *acting in the capacity of Hollywood) .

It may not be reckoned a true preposition for the simple reason that such as-phrases always have an implicit subject (he who is acting or speaking in the capacity or role of...), which must be the same as that of the matrix clause. (Thus, in the example above, it is I who am your friend, and I who am giving the advice). True prepositional phrases, in comparison, do not have 'subjects', but act simply as adjectival or adverbial modifiers.

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Postby pdh0224 » Wed Sep 08, 2004 8:36 am

Dear teacher,

Q1 :What are other predicate-focused sentential relative pronouns except for "As" ? How many they are?

Q2 : How many kinds of a relative pronoun exist?

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Postby Alan » Thu Sep 09, 2004 9:39 am

1. There is only one other sentential relative pronoun, and that is 'which'.

2. Relative pronouns may be divided into two main categories: ADNOMINAL and NOMINAL. Adnominal relative pronouns (i.e. those introducing adnominal, or adjectival, clauses) can be further subdivided into SENTENTIAL and NONSENTENTIAL (or 'general'): a general/nonsentential relative pronoun is the form that we most typically think of when speaking of relative pronouns, i.e. 'who, which' etc. taking a simple noun phrase as their antecedent. A sentential relative pronoun, on the other hand, takes either an entire clause, or else the predicate of a clause, as its antecedent. Examples:

'Full' sentential:

They lost the game, AS was only to be expected.

('As', standing as subject of the relative clause, refers to the putatively nominalized main clause the fact that they lost the game.)

'Predicate-focused' sentential:

He teaches school, AS I did when I was young.

('As', here the object of the verb 'did', refers to the putatively nominalized predicate of the main clause, teaching school ).


A nominal relative pronoun is one which introduces a nominal clause, such as 'what' in

This is WHAT he told me.
Last edited by Alan on Mon Sep 13, 2004 6:30 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Postby pdh0224 » Fri Sep 10, 2004 1:57 am

Alan wrote:'Predicate-focused' sentential:

He teaches school, AS I did when I was young.

('As', here the object of the verb 'did', refers to the putatively nominalized predicate of the main clause, i.e. teaching school).


It is interesting that "teaches school" is considered a "sentence". I believe it is in fact in "a category of a phrase" because "sentence" or "clause" must have at least "a subject + a verb", isn't it? I think the categorization is based on increasing "an efficiency of a classification".


Alan wrote:1. There is only one other sentential relative pronoun, and that is 'which'.


How about "than"? When I came across a sentence with "than", I think it is similar with "as" when it comes to "elliptical sentential antecedent". I believe "than" has also a character of a relative pronoun, but "than-clause , phrase" stands as an adverbial or adnominal post modifier to a comparative word.

#1
The report provided evidence that employment will continue to grow in the months before the November election, but much more slowly than administration officials had hoped just a few months ago.

:Similar with "Predicate-focused sentential Raltive pronoun"

=> than administration officials had hoped (continuing to grow in the months before the November election) just a few months ago

#2
Even with the new jobs created last month, economists said that employment had grown more slowly since the end of the recession of 2001 than during any previous recovery in the last half century.

: Similar with ""Predicate-focused sentential Raltive pronoun"

=> than (It did Growing ) during any previous recovery in the last half century

#3
Taken together, the increases in wages and in hours worked could mean that consumers will have more money to spend than previously thought.

:Similar with ""Predicate-focused sentential Raltive pronoun"

=> than (It is) previously thought (Having money to spend)

#4
As in previous months, unemployment in August had less to do with mass layoffs than with a reluctance to hire.

:"AS" as "Full-sentential Raltive pronoun"

=> As (unemployment in August had less to do with mass layoffs than with a reluctance to hire) in previous months,..

:Similar with "Predicate-focused sentential Raltive pronoun"

=> than (It DID having less to do) with a reluctance to hire

#5
The Labor Department estimated that 534,000 people were too discouraged to look for work, about the same number as in July but about 30,000 more than in August 2003.

:Similar with "Predicate-focused sentential Raltive pronoun"

=> as (They Did estimating that people were too discouraged to look for work) in July but about 30,000 more than (They Did estimating that 534,000 people were too discouraged to look for work) in August 2003

#6
But the labor participation remains lower today than it was two years ago or at the start of the recession.

:Similar with "Adnominal nonsentential Raltive pronoun"

=> than it was (the labor participation) two years ago or at the start of the recession

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Postby Alan » Fri Sep 10, 2004 5:06 am

It is interesting that "teaches school" is considered a "sentence". I believe it is in fact in "a category of a phrase" because "sentence" or "clause" must have at least "a subject + a verb", isn't it? I think the categorization is based on increasing "an efficiency of a classification".

******************************************************

Yes. The term 'sentential' needs to be understood with the slightly extended meaning of 'referring to a sentence or a (major) part thereof'. The similiarities here clearly outweigh the differences, in that exactly the same two pronouns ('which' and 'as'), and only those two, may take sentences, complete or partial, as antecedents.
******************************************************

How about "than"? When I came across a sentence with "than", I think it is similar with "as" when it comes to "elliptical sentential antecedent".

******************************************************

An interesting idea, but with one fatal flaw, which is that than-clauses modify adjectives or adverbs, while relative clauses (of which the sentential is a very particular kind) modify only nominals.

The apparent pronominality of 'than' in the cases you cite is due simply to ellipsis. To see why, it's probably best to go back to the most basic kind of than-sentence, to see how it works: in

[1] That book is more interesting than this one.

what we are really saying is

[1a] That book is more interesting than this one IS.

or, reconstituted fully (if unidiomatically):

[1b] That book is more interesting than this one IS INTERESTING.

in other words, one book is interesting to a greater extent (i.e. more) than another book is interesting. The than-clause adverbially modifies the adjective phrase 'more interesting' by specifying in comparison with what the statement applies.

If we now replace the two-word phrase [more+ADJ] with a single comparative form, which has the meaning of 'more' built in to it (so to speak), the same thing applies, even if the reconstituted full form sounds even less idiomatic than in the case of [1], so that

[2] He is taller than I am.

means

[2a] He is taller than I am TALL.

since 'taller' represents 'more tall'.

And there is, of course, no difference where the than-clause modifies an adverb rather than an adjective, so that

[3] He runs faster than you do.

represents putative full-form

[3a] He runs faster (i.e. 'fast to a greater degree') than you run fast.

We might also, rather than a simple comparison of two things or people as in the examples above, have a comparison between, say, reality and expectation, as in

[4] He ran faster than (we had) expected.

, elliptical for

[4a] He ran faster than we had expected THAT HE WOULD RUN FAST.

The extent of the ellipsis may be greater but the principle, once again, remains the same.

If we turn now to 'as' and attempt, in the same way, to insert supposedly ellipted words into a sentential as-clause on the assumption that it also is merely a conjunction in disguise, we run up against difficulties. Consider, for instance, the sentential clause of

[5] As I was saying, he's a very good student.

Let us now treat 'as' as a conjunction, and attempt to reinsert what must then have been ellipted. Clearly, 'I was saying' cannot be considered a complete phrase since it lacks an object. If 'as' is a conjunction, then the object must have been ellipted. What then was it? As nothing seems to present itself naturally from the context, let us try an expletive 'it'. What do we then get?

[5a] *As I was saying it, he's a very good student.

- a nonsentence! And, indeed, whatever noun or pronoun we may try to insert, we will similarly end up producing nonsense.

In other cases, although we may produce a structurally acceptable sentence, it clearly does not have the intended meaning. If, for instance, we insert an 'it' in the predicate-focused sentential as-clause of

[6] She has resigned following the scandal, AS she was obliged to do.

we get semantically different, not to say peculiar,

[6a] ?She has resigned following the scandal, AS she was obliged to do it.

where the subordinate clause has now become an adverbial clause of reason (containing a pronoun with no apparent referent), and has effectively lost all connection with the original.

For these reasons, I hope you can understand why we reckon sentential 'as' to be a true pronoun (if one limited in scope), whereas 'than', despite certain superficial similarities, is only ever a conjunction.
Last edited by Alan on Mon Sep 13, 2004 6:37 am, edited 3 times in total.

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Postby pdh0224 » Fri Sep 10, 2004 6:19 am

Alan wrote: It may not be reckoned a true preposition for the simple reason that such as-phrases always have an implicit subject (he who is acting or speaking in the capacity or role of...), which must be the same as that of the matrix clause. (Thus, in the example above, it is I who am your friend, and I who am giving the advice). True prepositional phrases, in comparison, do not have 'subjects', but act simply as adjectival or adverbial modifiers.


How about "like"?

He work like a beaver.

He look like his father.

Q1 :The preposition "like" have an implicit subject. Is "like" not also a "true preposition"?
(I think all of elements in a sentence have a subject whether it is implicit or explicit.

ex) I go to school.

Although "to school" modifies "go" as an adverbial phrase, it has connection with "I" through a verb "go". Conclusively, everyting in setence elements are rooted in a subject whether it is implicit or explicit, except for an occasion that a phrase has another explicit/inplicit subject ,for example, "for..to..." structure , an omission of a gerneral subject or an ellipsis of subject that can be guessed in context.

What do you think?



Q2 :"Like" also functions as a conjuction.

"She looked like she was about to cry."

What is differet between "as" and "Like" ?

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Postby Alan » Sun Sep 12, 2004 3:47 am

How about "like"?

He work like a beaver.

He look like his father.

Q1 :The preposition "like" have an implicit subject. Is "like" not also a "true preposition"?

***************************************************

As the term is generally understood in grammar, only a verb form may properly be said to have a 'subject'. (When we speak of the 'implicit subject' of a quasi-prepositional as-phrase being the same as that of the matrix clause - very much a special case, since that kind of phrase originates as a full clause - we mean that the referent of the noun following 'as' is identified with
that of the word constituting the sentence subject: i.e. the two terms denote, in reality, one and the same thing or person.)

We cannot meaningfully speak of the 'subject' of a modifier (including the prepositional phrase): this has only a REFERENT, i.e. the sentence element (the nominal, adnominal, verb or adverbial) to which it applies.

The preposition 'like' is, in origin, a predicative adjective or adverb: in older forms of English, the correct construction was 'like TO (me)'. It has now shed its once obligatory complemental to-phrase to govern the noun directly, and is thus classified, in the modern language, as a full preposition. Unlike 'as', however, it has no affinities - historical or actual - with conjunctions. There is, therefore, in the phrase 'like my father' nothing that could be described as a subject, only an object - 'my father'.

Perhaps it would be helpful to look at some examples to see more clearly the difference between quasi-prepositional 'as' and (preposition) 'like'. Compare, for instance

[1] As your friend, I would advise you to take action.

and

[2] Like your friend, I would advise you to take action.

In [1], I - the subject of the matrix clause - am representing myself, not simply as similar to, but as actually being 'your friend' of the as-phrase, whereas in [2] I am not: I am simply saying that my advice to you is the same as that given by your friend (another person).

Does this help?
Last edited by Alan on Mon Sep 13, 2004 6:41 am, edited 2 times in total.

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Postby pdh0224 » Sun Sep 12, 2004 6:56 am

Yes, Thank you for your great teaching :D

Now, I could know whether the sentence "This is freedom as we generally understand it" is right or not.

As you mentioned,

[5] As I was saying, he's a very good student.

[5a] *As I was saying it, he's a very good student.

That is applied to

This is freedom as we generally understand

*This is freedom as we generally understand it


But I have no idea about this sentence.

"Cliff Fleming, the pilot of the lead helicopter, was to make the first attempt to snag the parafoil with a 20-foot hook in the back of the helicopter. Mr. Fleming said that except for one deliberate miss as a test for the other pilot, Dan Rudert, he successfully caught the parachute in every practice run."

I think "as a test for the other pilot" modifies "one deliberate miss". But I can't applied a quasi-prepositional conjuction or a sentential relative noun function to it. As you know, a conjuction can't function as the adnominal. There is no a antecedential sentence around "as". Could you explain me about the sentence?

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Postby Alan » Sun Sep 12, 2004 11:29 pm

Actually, the second sentence

This is freedom as we generally understand it.

, not the first, is correct!

This 'as' is not a pronoun, but a conjunction, and the sentence means 'this is freedom IN THE WAY IN WHICH we generally understand it' (it = (the concept of) freedom).

Compare that with

As you can probably understand, I am reluctant to agree.

where 'as' functions as a sentential relative.

******************************************************

But I have no idea about this sentence.

"Cliff Fleming, the pilot of the lead helicopter, was to make the first attempt to snag the parafoil with a 20-foot hook in the back of the helicopter. Mr. Fleming said that except for one deliberate miss as a test for the other pilot, Dan Rudert, he successfully caught the parachute in every practice run."

******************************************************

The sentence is poorly constructed, and should ideally be rearranged so that the as-phrase (intended as a quasi-prepositional) occurs in the clause with Dan Rudert as subject.
Last edited by Alan on Sun Dec 10, 2006 10:36 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Postby pdh0224 » Mon Sep 13, 2004 12:44 am

Alan wrote:Actually, the second sentence

This is freedom as we generally understand it.

, not the first, is correct!

This 'as' is not a pronoun, but a conjunction, and the sentence means 'this is freedom IN THE WAY IN WHICH we generally understand it' (it = (the concept of) freedom).

Compare that with

As you can probably understand, I am reluctant to agree.

where 'as' functions as a sentential relative.


The sentence I mentioned is in a dictionary. It said the "as-clause" modifies "freedom". But "Clause" Do Not modifies a noun as the adnominal, doesn't it? :?:



Alan wrote:"Cliff Fleming, the pilot of the lead helicopter, was to make the first attempt to snag the parafoil with a 20-foot hook in the back of the helicopter. Mr. Fleming said that except for one deliberate miss as a test for the other pilot, Dan Rudert, he successfully caught the parachute in every practice run."

***********************************************

The sentence is poorly constructed, and should ideally be rerarranged so that the as-phrase (intended as a quasi-prepositional) occurs in the clause with Dan Rudert as subject.


Q1 : Could a quasi-prepositional conjunction "as" modify a noun as an adnominal?

Q2 : It is difficult to reconstruct the sentence. Could you show me the well-arranged sentence?

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Postby Alan » Mon Sep 13, 2004 6:25 am

The sentence I mentioned is in a dictionary. It said the "as-clause" modifies "freedom". But "Clause" Do Not modifies a noun as the adnominal, doesn't it?
******************************************************
Then, with all due respect, I must disagree with the dictionary! The clause is adverbial, not relative ('as' plainly has no pronominal function within it, but simply introduces it as a conjunction), and as such cannot meaningfully be said to modify a noun.

******************************************************

Q1 : Could a quasi-prepositional conjunction "as" modify a noun as an adnominal?
******************************************************
No: neither prepositions nor conjunctions can ever modify anything!

******************************************************


Q2 : It is difficult to reconstruct the sentence. Could you show me the well-arranged sentence?

******************************************************

Agreed, it is difficult, which is probably why the writer took the 'easy way out' and wrote it this way. However, if pushed, I would suggest something along the lines of

"Mr. Fleming said that, except for one deliberate miss that he had made when doing a test for the other pilot, Dan Rudert, he successfully caught the parachute in every practice run."

with no as-phrase at all!

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Postby pdh0224 » Mon Sep 13, 2004 6:36 am

Alan wrote:The sentence I mentioned is in a dictionary. It said the "as-clause" modifies "freedom". But "Clause" Do Not modifies a noun as the adnominal, doesn't it?
******************************************************
Then, with all due respect, I must disagree with the dictionary! The clause is adverbial, not relative ('as' plainly has no pronominal function within it, but simply introduces it as a conjunction), and as such cannot meaningfully be said to modify a noun



Let me show you one more thing. The dictionary said "as" also can function as an adjective by showing the example like this.

I attended the meeting in my capacity as adviser.

It said "as adviser" modifies "capacity". I think "as adviser" modifies "attended" as an adverb, doesn't it?

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Postby Alan » Mon Sep 13, 2004 9:39 am

Let me show you one more thing. The dictionary said "as" also can function as an adjective by showing the example like this.

I attended the meeting in my capacity as adviser.


******************************************************
I can't say that I could agree with that analysis! The word 'as' itself cannot in any way be considered as belonging to the form-class 'adjectives', but, as a connector, it does introduce phrases/clauses that are adjectival in function. One type is the relative clause, where 'as' functions as a relative pronoun or adverb. The other is the as-phrase, introduced by 'as' functioning as quasi-prepositional conjunction, whose typical meaning is 'speaking/acting in the role/capacity of ...' (and which is thus structurally equivalent to a combination of participial phrase and prepositional phrase). The as-clause in the example you cite represents a slight variation on this (something closer to 'in which I act in the role of...'), but is still plainly adjectival since the phrase as a whole serves the same function as the adjective 'advisory' in 'in my advisory capacity'.
Last edited by Alan on Wed Sep 15, 2004 3:54 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Postby pdh0224 » Mon Sep 13, 2004 11:01 am

As you mentioned, "as" in the sentence functions as an adjective like a preposition phrase. Why don't we add the function of a preposition to one of functions of "as" ,in addition to the relative clause and the as-phrase, rather than we consider it as a variation usage? I think it is more efficient classification,isn't it ?

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Postby Alan » Tue Sep 14, 2004 9:45 am

Reasons already explained: the phrases that it introduces have an implicit agency that the true prepositional phrase can never have. Simply to label it a 'preposition' (which, admittedly, some reference works do) is, to my mind, sacrificing accuracy for the sake of simplicity!


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