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There is a way to construct sentences in English which I encounter quite often:

As an anthropologist, I find communities interesting.

I find this construction sensible and easy to understand. However, sometimes I encounter things like:

As an anthropologist, communities make me curious.

Here, the clause doesn't describe the subject of the sentence, or the word it directly precedes, but another word in the sentence. Such a construct is a (rather common) mistake in Russian, and it makes me wonder how it can work in English.

However, this does not quite exhaust the variety of the usage of this construct. Often I stumble upon sentences like this one:

As an anthropologist, communities are amazing.

These I can understand, but I have a feeling that they make no sense grammatically: how can something grammatically refer to something which wasn't even mentioned? The frequency of such usage suggests that I might be quite wrong, though.

Could you please describe the proper grammatical rules for such a construct?

(Unfortunately, I couldn't find an effective way to look for the information about such a "clause", which I couldn't even name, inviting the possibility of creating a duplicate question)

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In the sentence

As an anthropologist, I find communities interesting.

the introductory phrase contributes a reason for your finding:

Because I'm an anthropologist, I find find communities interesting.

In this guise, the introductory (now) clause is adverbial. Note the this version travels well in the sentence:

I find find communities interesting because I'm an anthropologist.

Not so much with the original:

I find communities interesting as an anthropologist.

which seems to say that you find communities and anthropologists equally interesting.

The introductory phrase seems also to modify the subject, meaning

I, an anthropologist, find communities interesting.

This is a sign that you're dealing with a nominative absolute:

[Being] an anthropologist, I find find communities interesting.

A nominative absolute refers to the subject and completes the meaning of the subject and predicate of the main clause, yet is grammatically free from the clause.

When the subject of the main clause is inapt, we call the absolute construction dangling. In the version:

As an anthropologist, communities are interesting to me

we hardly notice. Anthropologist is singular and communities is plural; anthropologist is a concrete noun applying to persons, and communities is an abstract noun. So the sense makes the phrase attach itself to the object me (both singular and personal), and confusion is unlikely.

In the version

As an anthropologist, communities are interesting.

the absolute is all dressed up but has nowhere to go and is left suggesting that communities are an anthropologist.

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I would say that the same principles apply in English as in Russian.

As an anthropologist, I find communities interesting. [correct]

As an anthropologist, communities make me curious. [incorrect]

As an anthropologist, communities are amazing. [incorrect]

However consider the following:

Speaking as an anthropologist, communities make me curious.

I find that acceptable because it is equivalent to

Communities make me curious—I speak as an anthropologist.

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    I wouldn't say that, "As an anthropologist, communities make me curious." is so much incorrect as depending on context to get it right.
    – Hack Saw
    Oct 15 '15 at 19:03
  • @HackSaw - Do you have a suitable context? Oct 15 '15 at 19:18
  • In this case, since the two nouns are communities and me, and since it'd be very odd to refer to communities as being an anthropologist, it's clear that me is target.
    – Hack Saw
    Oct 15 '15 at 21:45
  • If you said, "As a psychologist, Freud is interesting to me", things are less clear.
    – Hack Saw
    Oct 15 '15 at 21:46
  • @HackSaw - Interesting. When I read the 'Freud' one I automatically saw it as referring to Freud. It was only after thinking about it and wondering why you gave that example that I could see it as possibly referring to the speaker. (reinforced by the fact that Freud wasn't a psychologist but a psychoanalyst -- science as opposed to mumbo-jumbo) Oct 15 '15 at 21:50

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