The following passage is quoted from the article in Newsweek by Leah McGrath Goodman, titled "Thomas Piketty Says He Was Ambushed":

[Financial Times’s economics editor Chris] Giles, in his critque, takes issue with everything from what he suggests are innocent errors in the transcription of Piketty’s data to numbers that “appear simply to be constructed out of thin air.”

Most damaging in the assessment is his assertion that Piketty’s data on rising wealth inequality may be incorrect, holding that this contention is “the centerpiece of Capital in the Twenty-First Century.”

What is the subject of the verb "holding"? I think Giles is.

  • It's more likely his assertion that ... incorrect, which is the noun phrase immediately preceding holding, and also the subject of the inverted first clause, which was probly inverted just to put that heavy subject within range of the next participle. – John Lawler Mar 7 '15 at 15:41
  • Yes, that's it exactly. Giles' assertion. – Brian Hitchcock Mar 8 '15 at 1:53
  • 1
    It's not a very well-constructed sentence. That holding is a prime candidate for dangling participle-ship, especially because it's immediately followed by “this contention”, even though no relevant contention has been mentioned before. I don't really know how a contention (whose? Giles’ or Piketty’s?) can possibly be the centrepiece of an already published book. Basically a bad sentence, possibly one with parts missing. – Janus Bahs Jacquet Sep 5 '15 at 12:28
  • 1
    his assertion – Alan Carmack Nov 24 '16 at 13:55
  • I agree that Giles is the understood subject of "hold". Giles holds that Piketty's contention that wealth inequality is rising is the centerpiece of Piketty's book (which contention may be incorrect). – Greg Lee Feb 22 '17 at 17:43

You're right that Giles is the one doing the holding—as Brian Hitchcock and (I think) John Lawler noted a month ago. To make the attribution clearer, the author could have revised the relevant sentence to say something like this:

Most damaging in Giles's assessment is his assertion that Piketty’s data on rising wealth inequality may be incorrect, since Giles views this contention as being “the centerpiece of Capital in the Twenty-First Century.”

But there is really no other way to construe the passage that makes much sense.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.