Enthusiastic as they were

luke luke

New Member
CAN
The sentence is from the article "The Touch-Screen Generation" by Hanna Rosin.

The part I'm confused with reads: "I had come to the developers’ conference partly because I hoped that this particular set of parents, enthusiastic as they were about interactive media, might help me out of this conundrum, that they might offer some guiding principle for American parents who are clearly never going to meet the academy’s ideals, and at some level do not want to.”

As to the meaning of the sentence in bold, I have two theories: 1, because they were enthusiastic about interactive media; 2, although they were enthusiastic about interactive media. I can't be sure which one is correct. Can anyone help with it please?
 
  • Glasguensis

    Signal Modulation
    English - Scotland
    It isn't really either of those. It is more "who were enthusiastic". You could use "because" or "since" here and achieve a similar meaning, but the expression itself is more neutral.
     

    velisarius

    Senior Member
    British English (Sussex)
    I had to read the relevant portion of the article and I'm pretty sure that the intended meaning is "since".

    The "Academy's ideals" are that babies and small children should have only very restricted access to "new screen technologies. The writer wants to hear from parents with very small children, who are themselves enthusiastic about interactive media, about how they are dealing with this problem.
     

    luke luke

    New Member
    CAN
    I had to read the relevant portion of the article and I'm pretty sure that the intended meaning is "since".

    The "Academy's ideals" are that babies and small children should have only very restricted access to "new screen technologies. The writer wants to hear from parents with very small children, who are themselves enthusiastic about interactive media, about how they are dealing with this problem.
    Thanks for your reply. I agree with your interpretation. However, in my opinion the other interpretation can also work with the context:
    The writer hoped to meet this particular set of parents, namely the developers who had small children. But, the writer was concerned whether they could provide unbiased suggestions, because they themselves were enthusiastic about interactive media.

    Besides, I know it's standard when "as" clause is inverted, turning to a concession clause to mean "although". Is it normal to invert "as" clause to mean "since or because"?
     

    Glasguensis

    Signal Modulation
    English - Scotland
    In my opinion there is no chance that the author meant "although". In fact I can't think of any context where this structure would mean "although".

    I don't understand what you mean about inverted "as" clauses.
     

    velisarius

    Senior Member
    British English (Sussex)
    I hoped that this particular set of parents, enthusiastic as they were about interactive media, might help me out of this conundrum,
    Yes, I think it could equally well be read as "being enthusiastic about interactive media/since they were enthusiastic about interactive media".

    It's the context really that makes the difference here - ...they might offer some guiding principle for American parents who are clearly never going to meet the academy’s ideals, and at some level do not want to. If they are enthusiastic, they may have some insight into why the new media might be good for the children's development. The writer wants to hear some arguments in favour of interactive media, since the Academy is mostly negative still on the subject.
     

    luke luke

    New Member
    CAN
    Yes, I think it could equally well be read as "being enthusiastic about interactive media/since they were enthusiastic about interactive media".
    I believe your interpretation is the intended meaning by the writer. After all you're the native speaker.

    But my doubt remains. With due respect, the sentence in question, to me, can also convey a sense of meaning similar to this:
    I hoped that those parents, though they themselves don't eat much vegetables, could give me some advice on how to get kids to eat more vegetables.
    or like this:
    ... parents, though they themselves play a lot of video games, could give me some advice on how to restrain kids from playing too much video games.

    or not?


    In addition, the grammatical structure "adjective + as clause" is equivalent to "though/although clause". At least that's what I was taught at school in China. Doesn't it apply here?
     

    velisarius

    Senior Member
    British English (Sussex)
    Example of this construction where "although" is implied:

    Unaccustomed as I am to making speeches, I feel compelled on this occasion...

    I feel that when we begin a sentence with "adjective + as clause" we mean it to imply "although":
    As enthusiastic as they are about interactive media, they nevertheless draw the line at unrestricted viewing for toddlers.

    A random example from Twitter:
    As gutted as I am about the Trump travesty, I'm more appalled by the thoughtless dismissive coverage of the terrible crash in #Croydon.

    I suggest that the construction is "As * as I am...", but when the adjective is a past participle the first "as" is optional.

    The OP sentence seems slightly different: The phrase doesn't begin the sentence, there is only one "as", and it follows an adjective (enthusiastic) rather than a past participle. I see no reason not to interpret it as "since". This particular set of parents, being so enthusiastic about interactive media, might help...

    If the intended meaning was "although", I'd expect to see This particular set of parents, enthusiastic though they were...

    If you look at the other examples I found, where the phrase comes at the beginning of the sentence, you'll see that it's followed by a parallel clause, so that we have the meaning
    [Although X...Y]
     

    velisarius

    Senior Member
    British English (Sussex)
    I meant to note that the pattern is [Although X...Y], where typically the second, main clause Y contains some element that points to a contrast between it and statement X.

    Unaccustomed as I am
    to making speeches, I feel compelled on this occasion...
    As enthusiastic as they are about interactive media, they nevertheless draw the line at unrestricted viewing for toddlers.
    As gutted as I am about the Trump travesty, I'm more appalled by the thoughtless dismissive coverage...

    Looking again at the OP sentence,
    I hoped that this particular set of parents, enthusiastic as they were about interactive media, might help me out of this conundrum, that they might offer some guiding principle for American parents...

    I don't see any such element of contrast in: might help me out of this conundrum, that they might offer some guiding principle for American parents... It's for that reason that I see phrase in question as meaning "since they were enthusiastic..."


     

    Glasguensis

    Signal Modulation
    English - Scotland
    As I already said, there is no possibility that "although" is intended. I agree with Velisarius that a different structure would be needed for "* as they were" to imply "although".
     
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