Additional phrase to the main clause with different subject

taceev

Senior Member
Turkish
The fictional character is the master, the writer his apprentice. (Jose Saramago)
What is the name of that phrase grammatically? Is it an absolute phrase or reduced relative cluase with different subject from the main cluase?

I think the meaning of the sentence I quoted is:

The fictional character is the master and at the same time, the writer is his apprentice.
I have one more question, can I add "being" in that phrase?

The fictional character is the master, the writer being his apprentice.
 
  • boozer

    Senior Member
    Bulgarian
    In the first example, I would say it was a reduced main clause. It is a compound sentence with two "main" independent clauses, i.e. neither clause subordinate. In the second one the verb is omitted because it is understood.
     

    SevenDays

    Senior Member
    Spanish
    What is the name of that phrase grammatically? Is it an absolute phrase or reduced relative cluase with different subject from the main cluase?

    I think the meaning of the sentence I quoted is:


    I have one more question, can I add "being" in that phrase?
    We need to analyze your examples one at a time. The first example has undergone reduction, which is simply the omission of certain words that are understood (and therefore not essential to the intended meaning). Namely,

    The fictional character is the master, the writer his apprentice

    is the shorter version of

    The fictional character is the master, and the writer [be] his apprentice

    where [be] is likely "is" (but could also be some other form of the auxiliary "be" verb). Both "and" and [be] are omitted because they are not needed, and that leaves behind the writer his apprentice. Since a reduced clause (a clause without a verb) becomes a phrase (a phrase is a group of words without an explicit verb), the two terms (reduced clause, phrase) are really two sides of the same coin. As to the term "absolute" (absolute clause/absolute phrase), I suppose that depends on who you ask. Some use "absolute" to mean "independent" from the rest of the sentence, which would be the case in your example. However, others use "absolute phrase" as a modifier, and since "the writer his apprentice" doesn't modify anything, this wouldn't be an absolute phrase. And yet others would argue that "absolute" makes more sense in languages such as Latin rather than English. In other words, I don't know if you'll find consensus on the use of "absolute" in this context.

    Your second example behaves differently. In,

    The fictional character is the master, the writer being his apprentice.

    there is no reduction. The "be" verb is present ("being"), but it's hard to see that "and" is omitted, as in

    The fictional character is the master, and the writer being his apprentice

    because conjunction reduction (the technical term for the omission of "and") usually works with elements of the same syntactic type. Here, however, you've got first a finite clause (with the finite verb "is"), and then a non-finite clause (with the nonfinite verb "being"); as a result, "and" is out of place, so it's hard to see "reduction" of an element (the conjunction "and") that wasn't there to begin with. (By contrast, your first example accepts two finite clauses, so we can see "and-reduction" at work.)

    In "The fictional character is the master, the writer being his apprentice," we have two independent clauses (one finite, the other nonfinite) placed opposite of each other, I suppose for rhetorical effect. If this works or not, I guess it's in the eye of the beholder.

    Executive Summary: I see reduction in your first example, but not in the second, and we need to consult the Linguistic Gods to see if the term "absolute" fits here at all.
     
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