Is the following construct (grammatically) correct?

Swiss mathematician and physicist Leonhard Euler's contribution to number theory was [...]

It sounds clumsy to me; however, this rewrite sounds pedantic:

Leonhard Euler was a mathematician and physicist. His contribution to number theory was [...]

marked as duplicate by StoneyB, MetaEd, kiamlaluno, Hellion, Kristina Lopez May 17 '13 at 17:57

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  • 3
    Too much in one sentence. Make it several. Otherwise you'll sound like best-selling novelist Dan Brown. – John Lawler May 16 '13 at 2:14
  • @John Haha, brevity != best-selling? ;) I may have to compromise, and shorten the phrase to "Swiss mathematician Leonhard Euler's ...". The post recommended by StoneyB seems to indicate that this would be grammatically correct. Thanks again. – tinpottallulah May 16 '13 at 2:44
  • 3
    Re: best-selling novelist Dan Brown. – John Lawler May 16 '13 at 3:13
  • 1
    Renowned linguist Geoff Pullum is the guy who defends sentences like "He gave it to John and I" as acceptable because "idiomatic", but all of a sudden he has issues with Dan Brown's potboilers because they don't meet his aesthetic standards? I wish Pullum would find some potion to make his judgments about language consistent. He's as hypocritical as I've claimed he is ever since I read his & Huddleston's defense of "He gave it to John and I" in the CGEL. How can we trust renowned hypocrite G. Pullum's judgment about anything to do with English? I don't because I can't. – user21497 May 16 '13 at 6:37

"Swiss mathematician and physicist Leonhard Euler's contribution to number theory was [...]" is grammatical and natural.

You're right that the rewrite you suggest is pedantic, but that's just one way of rewriting it. If the remainder of the sentence is short, you can also rewrite it as, for example:

Leonhard Euler, an 18th-century Swiss mathematician and physicist, introduced and popularized modern notation and terminology, particularly in mathematical analysis.

There's more than one way to skin a cat.

  • Great suggestion. – tinpottallulah May 16 '13 at 2:48
  • 2
    All comments so far have been helpful and have provided answers my question — a general agreement that my first sentence is clumsy but grammatically correct. However, this answer really shows how to rethink the problem. Thanks Bill. – tinpottallulah May 16 '13 at 2:57

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