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Does the following sentence end with a nominative absolute?

The term was coined nearly 40 years ago by a prominent cardiologist, who noticed that all of his heart disease patients had common behavioral characteristics, the most obvious being that they were in a chronic rush.

Is the most obvious... the absolute phrase?

  • @tchrist It is not 'an exact duplicate of an existing question', since (unbeknown to the poster) this one contains a special point of grammar concerning the subject in the possible absolute clause. It's a crucial point about absolute clauses that is not covered at all in the previous question that you cite. – BillJ Sep 4 '16 at 17:34
  • @BillJ Thanks, I've edited the question a bit and reöpened it. Looking forward to your answer. – tchrist Sep 4 '16 at 18:42
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The term was coined nearly 40 years ago by a prominent cardiologist, who noticed that all of his heart disease patients had common behavioral characteristics, the most obvious being that they were in a chronic rush.

I think it is debatable whether the adjunct in bold is a true absolute clause. It meets some of the criteria by virtue of being non-finite, supplementary, and subordinate in form, but absolutes have their own subject and thus have no syntactic link to the main clause. In this case the subject is the fused modifier-head "obvious" which is interpreted anaphorically as "most obvious of them", i.e. "most obvious of the characteristics". It could be argued that since the subject is not truly overt, it fails to qualify as an absolute.

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