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She went back to her homeland, her mind free of hate. (English Syntax and Argumentation, Bas Aarts)

Aarts says the highlighted part is a small clause that has the role of adjunct. By the remarks of Martha Kolln, the clause is the adjunct for the whole sentence.

(The absolute phrase introduces an idea to the sentence as a whole, not to any one of its parts; Understanding English Grammar, Eighth Edition, Martha Kolln, p203)

If we say the small clause or the absolute phrase modify the predicate - went back to her homeland, is it wrong?

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1 Answer 1

up vote 4 down vote accepted

I think it's formally correct, but not very helpful.

To my mind, analysing clauses/phrases of this sort as 'adjuncts' is more a method of shoehorning them into accepted categories of sentence structure than it is a real description of how the sentences work.

In Prof. Aarts' example, for instance, I don't think that her mind free of hate is really a discardable part of the sentence. On the contrary, it looks to me like the target at which the author is aiming the sentence, a superordinate commentary on the supposed 'main' clause.

It would be more useful to discuss constructions of this sort as a part of what Aarts calls information structuring.

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“Finally done for the day, he packed his bag and left.” –  tchrist Mar 9 '13 at 16:40
    
@tchrist Just so. It's a way of coordinating without conjunctions. –  StoneyB Mar 9 '13 at 17:23
2  
I like the ideas that the small clause is at least as semantically loaded as the main clause, and that the avoidance of a clause-joining conjunction shows the unity of the two concepts in the sentence. Since Chomsky, it is felt by some people that the concentration on syntactic analysis, valuable though it has been, has been at the expense of richer communication. “He had finally done for the day. So he packed his bag and left.” It lacks tchrist's depth. –  Edwin Ashworth Mar 9 '13 at 21:49

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