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Bryan Garner. Garner's Modern American Usage (3 ed; 2009). p 575. This excellent answer by user 'Sven Yargs' introduced me to it.

notwithstanding is a FORMAL WORD, used in the sense "despite," "in spite of," or "although." E.g., "Notwithstanding an outpouring of editorial opinion on either side of this issue, there are no easy answers." [Citation omitted.]

The question that literalists ask [about notwithstanding] is, What doesn't withstand what else? Is the outpouring of opinion "not withstanding" (i.e., subordinated to) the lack of easy answers, or is the lack of easy answers "not withstanding" (subordinated to) the outpouring of editorial opinion? Because the former is the correct reading, some believe that notwithstanding should be sent to the end of the phrase in which it appears: The family's objection to the marriage notwithstanding, as opposed to Notwithstanding the family's objection to the marriage.

But the literalist argument is very much in vain, as the OED attests with a 14th-century example of notwithstanding as a sentence starter. This usage has been constant since from the 1300s to the present day. In fact, the construction with notwithstanding following the noun first appeared more than a century later, and has never been as frequent. ...

Thanks to users 'ScotM` and the aforesaid 'Sven Yargs', I now understand that:

  1. Notwithstanding X, Y. ⇔ X canNOT withstand Y ⇔ Y happens, despite X. ⇔ X is subordinated to Y.

But I don't understand the sentence in grey above. Please see the titled question.

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    It’s not really clear what it is you do and don’t understand. Please clarify what exactly you find unclear about the highlighted sentence. My suspicion is that you don’t see why “the former reading is correct” should cause pedants to believe notwithstanding should go at the end instead of at the beginning – is that correct? Or am I misguessing? – Janus Bahs Jacquet Jul 19 '19 at 11:18
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The OP's question focuses on Garner's remark:

Because the former is the correct reading, some believe that notwithstanding should be sent to the end of the phrase in which it appears.

The (extremely dubious) purist argument is that

An outpouring of editorial opinion on either side of this issue notwithstanding, there are no easy answers.

literally means

The outpouring of editorial opinion did not withstand the absence of easy answers.

whereas

Notwithstanding an outpouring of editorial opinion on either side of this issue, there are no easy answers.

literally means

The absence of easy answers did not withstand the outpouring of editorial opinion.

The "correct reading," Garner observes, is that the attempts by editorial opinion writers to persuade everyone that the answer is clear-cut fail to resolve the underlying complexity of the issue; that is, the editorial arguments don't withstand the force of the opposing thesis that there are no easy answers. As a matter of structural logic, the "notwithstanding-at-the-end" construction makes this point, while the "notwithstanding-at-the-beginning" construction does not.

Part of the reason this analysis seems a bit awkward is that Garner's example involves nested oppositions: there is the opposition between the argument (by editorial opinion writers) that the problem at issue has easy answers and the counterargument (made by the writer) that there are no easy answers; but there is also the opposition between editorial opinion writers who think one answer is obviously correct and editorial opinion writers who think that the opposite answer is obviously correct.

The example's nested oppositions muddy the waters somewhat—so Garner presents a less complex example of what the logical purists are talking about. As he notes, the purists' reading of "notwithstanding" as meaning literally "not withstanding" leads them to conclude that the following sentence is logically correct:

The family's objection to the marriage notwithstanding, [the marriage took place].

because the objection did not withstand the couple's desire to marry, as proved by the fact that the objections did not prevent the marriage.

In contrast, the purists would say, this sentence is illogical:

Notwithstanding the family's objection to the marriage, [the marriage took place].

because it states that the family's objection was "not withstood" at the same time that it clearly shows that the couple did withstand the objection by getting married anyway.

One might argue this it is a very odd purist indeed who insists on the critical importance of proper placement of "notwithstanding" to indicate which of two opposed sides successfully withstood the other, and yet seems to care very little that use of "not withstanding" is not a very logical choice of terms in a situation where "not preventing" would characterize the situation more accurately. After all, the family's objection to the marriage may still stand—and remain as firm as ever—whether the couple married or not.

A true logical stickler might, therefore, insist on reserving "notwithstanding" for instances in which something literally failed to withstand something else. For example:

The barbarian horde eventually sacked the town, the town's stout defenses notwithstanding.

But all of this malarkey takes place in a world of prescriptive logicality that bears little connection to the the real world of English as she is spoke. As Garner points out, writers have been using "notwithstanding" in the "illogical" way for more than 600 years, strongly suggesting that English writers and speakers have never acknowledged the logical rule that the purists wish to promulgate.

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  • At I elsewhere just now mentioned in a comment, I feel like when nevertheless falls at the end, that the [SENTENCE + ADVERB] use meaning “at any rate, anyway(s)” is too often confused with the [NOUN PHRASE + POSTPOSITION] use meaning the same thing as the preposition “in spite of, despite”. – tchrist Jul 20 '19 at 19:56
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Because the former is the correct reading, some believe that notwithstanding  
should be sent to the end of the phrase in which it appears

But I don't understand the sentence in grey above. [OP]

It's saying that literalists, e.g. nitpickers and pedants, think "notwithstanding" as an adverb should be placed at the end of a clause or sentence.

I am lactose intolerant; I still eat ice-cream notwithstanding.

  1. My being lactose intolerant is notwithstanding my eating ice-cream. NO
  2. My eating ice-cream is notwithstanding my lactose intolerance. YES

Therefore some people (I am not among them) might object to the following

Notwithstanding my lactose intolerance, I still eat ice-cream.

The following examples from GrammarBook.com, show that notwithstanding can go at the beginning, in mid-position or at the end of a clause. The author does not say one form is preferable or more correct than the other, and rightly so.

Notwithstanding can function as a preposition (in spite of; without being opposed or prevented by), a conjunction (in spite of the fact that; although), or an adverb (nevertheless, anyway, yet).

Examples

  • Preposition: Notwithstanding his lack of preparation, he scored an A on the test.

  • Conjunction: The football team rushed for almost 300 yards, notwithstanding the field was in an especially shoddy condition.

  • ADVERB: They hardly know our qualifications. They hired our firm for the project notwithstanding.

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    I think the asker understands that much; what I think the question is intending to ask more specifically is why “because the former is the correct reading” means that notwithstanding should be at the end as a postposition instead of at the front as a preposition. It’s not very clearly worded, but then nor is Garner’s sentence. (The answer is of course that if taken as a real participle, “not withstanding X” and “X not withstanding [something else]” mean the opposite of each other – X is subject in one and object in the other.) – Janus Bahs Jacquet Jul 19 '19 at 11:06
  • @JanusBahsJacquet I think the asker understands that much; but we cannot know if the OP doesn't say what he understands. Look at the title "Why is 'X notwithstanding' more correct than 'notwithstanding X'?" It seems that pedants say the adverbial use should go at the end, but it's only a matter of opinion. – Mari-Lou A Jul 19 '19 at 11:10
  • Yes, but the part he’s saying he doesn’t understand is the part gives the rationale for why “X notwithstanding” is considered more correct by pedants. That seems to me the most clearly (or least I clearly) implied source of incomprehension in the question. But I agree it’s unclear. I’ve voted to put the question on hold pending clarification. – Janus Bahs Jacquet Jul 19 '19 at 11:16
  • @JanusBahsJacquet It feels to me like folks here and in citations are confusing two different uses when falling at the end. The first use is as a sentence adverb meaning “at any rate” like anyway(s), so [S ADV] where the adverb applies to an entire foregoing sentence (subject + finite-verb). The second use is as a full-fledged postposition applying to the foregoing noun phrase, so [NP POSTP], meaning the same thing as the preposition in spite of: “The anxieties of Nato notwithstanding, it is difficult to see how the West can fail to benefit.” – tchrist Jul 20 '19 at 19:52

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