1

I often see sentence structures like "..., among them N, N, and N."

His songs also became hits for others, among them “Nothing Compares 2 U” for Sinead O’Connor, “Manic Monday” for the Bangles and “I Feel for You” for Chaka Khan.

(http://www.nytimes.com/2016/04/22/arts/music/prince-dead.html?_r=0)

As far as I know, this is not included in the typical 'gapping' category in which you can omit repeated verbs when the sentences are paralleled with 'and.' (You can omit 'and' as well.)

Can anyone explain what kind of grammatical rule is applied here? I cannot think of similar structures other than 'among them.'

I found that someone has already asked the exact same question before(Dropping of "was" from "A couple of ministers had to resign too, among them [was] Interior Minister Fouchet."), but it seems like it has remained unsolved.

  • 3
    It's a simple list of three items. "Among them" is not a part of the list structure. Nothing is omitted. (And there are several words that could be used instead, including.) – Hot Licks Apr 24 '16 at 13:55
  • @HotLicks Thank you for your comment. I don't know if I am the only one who consider 'including' to be different from 'among them' because 'including' is just a preposition but 'among them' is preposition+pronoun: noun phrase by itself. I just feel like including such and such is different from among them such and such. – Luxembourg Apr 24 '16 at 14:08
  • I think it is a pretty poor sentence. "them" refers to "songs [which] became hits for others". So why not write it that way? He also wrote songs which became hits for others such as ..." How can you use "them" to refer to "songs also became hits for others"? "Among them" seems grammatically wrong here. I expect to see a verb somewhere downstream. ... among them "Nothing Compares 2 U” for Sinead O’Connor, “Manic Monday” for the Bangles and “I Feel for You” for Chaka Khan what? – Phil Sweet Apr 24 '16 at 16:10
  • Nothing is omitted here; depending on how you judge them, they could be either in apposition or in an absolute construction. Also of note is that including is a present participle, not a preposition. – Anonym Apr 25 '16 at 1:29
  • 1
    @Luxembourg Perhaps this will help to clarify things: The Merrie Men, foremost among them Robin Hood, stole from the rich and gave to the poor. – Anonym Apr 25 '16 at 2:12
2

If you look at the usage in context of the whole paragraph, it looks like the author used "among them, N, N, and N" as a style choice. The author is listing several items within different categories: Prince's songs that he himself performed that became hits, his songs with which other performers made hits, as well as movies, awards, albums, etc.

There's a lot going on in the paragraph, and as the author already employs a colon, a semi colon, and lots of commas, the use of "among them" seems to be the right tool for the job. I think the use of "among them" helps parallel "...songs...for....others" as in the listing's same structure of "...[name of Prince's song] ...for... [name of performer(s) who made the charts with a Prince cover]....

  • "A seven-time Grammy winner, Prince had Top 10 hits like “Little Red Corvette,” “When Doves Cry,” “Let’s Go Crazy,” “Kiss” and “The Most Beautiful Girl in the World”; albums like “Dirty Mind,” “1999” and “Sign O’ the Times” were full-length statements. His songs also became hits for others, among them “Nothing Compares 2 U” for Sinead O’Connor, “Manic Monday” for the Bangles and “I Feel for You” for Chaka Khan. With the 1984 film and album “Purple Rain,” he told a fictionalized version of his own story: biracial, gifted, spectacularly ambitious. Its music won him an Academy Award, and the album sold more than 13 million copies in the United States alone." -

(From an even broader context, there may be the influence of some diplomacy involved here too - as is the wont of some music critics - some performers made the top of the charts only with his songs, or only after his songs got them there, while others were already megastars when they made Prince covers. The paralleling structure also has an implied equalizing, or perhaps an implied "range that ran the full gamut" meaning, i.e. "his songs were so good they were attractive to performers with proven prowess and his songs attracted performers who needed his material to make up for their own lacking..." For myself, there is no comparison of the "top chart"-ness ascribed to performers like "The Bangles" vis a vis the chance to cover a a Prince song, to a performer like Chaka Khan who can slay any song of her choosing, so the author's choice of "among them" to preface the list broadens the categorizing moreso than it does provide inclusive containment.)

The choice could be a stylization of ellipsis or apposition, but I think to defy a rule by stylizing it means the rule can't really be applied...right? In this case the application of a rule could be called more of a grammatical "guideline"...

  • Thank you for a full-length account with not only lingual but also musical expertise! I feel much more clear now. – Luxembourg Apr 25 '16 at 1:38
1

I often see sentence structures like "..., among them N, N, and N." Can anyone explain what kind of grammatical rule is applied here?

To my knowledge, there is no grammatical rule at play here so much as a common stylistic convention. If I recall correctly, classical Greek used elision far more elegantly than modern English, but it is the same principle. In this case "among them" could be replaced with "including," for instance. Our tendency to prefer to list either one or three items in such a sequence is more mysterious to me, and I have no idea of the origin of that apparent (subjective) preference.

0

I would call this an appositive. There are certain words implied but omitted (perhaps the full clause would be 'and among them were'), and the noun phrase (a list of performers) is left in apposition to 'others'.

  • Thank you, Dodecaphone! By considering all the opinions, I think it is a certain style combined with appositives and ellipses. – Luxembourg Apr 25 '16 at 1:48

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.