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The sentence:
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If there is one fact more than any other which stands out in the history of science, it is the remarkable extent to which great discoveries and youthful genius stand associated together.
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I think it's the same as:

If there is one fact which stands out in the history of science more than any other...

I think "more than any other" should belong to the which-clause., but in the original sentence it doesn't. Is it a common collocation? Does

A+(which B [adverb/adverbial])=>A [adverb/adverbial]+(which B)

happen often in actual writing? Or is it rare?
Comments  
Not rare; it does appear. I too like 'more than any other' better within the clause, modifying 'stands out' , but I suppose it could also modify 'fact'. Since we hear sentences linearly, this form might more likely appear in the spoken language.
It is the word "other", which stands for "other fact", which allows this structure.

The underlying sentence is:

If there is one fact (which stands out) more than any other (fact) which stands out ..., it is ...

Similarly:

If there is one man that gives good advice more than any other man that gives good advice, it is my grandfather.

becomes:

If there is one man ... more than any other ... that gives good advice, it is my grandfather.

It is more of a literary device than a conversational one.

Your rephrasing is equally good.
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So, it could be ellipsis.

Is it also possible to take "more than any other" as parenthetical ?
Jim?
I used the dots ... to show that words from the full sentence were omitted, not to show that the phrase was parenthetical. Nevertheless, the sentence makes sense without the phrase, so yes, you might think of it as parenthetical.
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:I used the dots ... to show that words from the full sentence were omitted, not to show that the phrase was parenthetical.

I know.

I thought the ellipsis-theory worked, but it seemed a bit roudabout --especially to my students. So I came up with the prenthetical idea, which I thought was much simpler, and asked you if it worked or not.

Anyway, thank you, Jim!
Jim, I have received a message from a friend of mine on this matter as follows:

I'm not sure about the ellipsis/parenthetical stuff, but I think that "if there is one fact which stands out in the history of science more than any other fact which stands out in the history of science..." is different from "if there is one fact more than any other which stands out in the history of science ."

In the first case, you consider all the facts that stand out, then you pick the one which stands out most (if it exists). In the second case, you take all the facts in the history of science before considering the one that stands out more. That's a subtle difference, but in 1) you necessarily imply that some facts stand out more than others, whereas in 2) you're not sure about that.
This doesn't change much in this context, but it could in another one.
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IMO, this sentence:

If there is one fact more than any other which stands out in the history of science

should read:

If there is one fact, more than any other fact (=all facts considered), which stands out in the history of science

Here:

If there is one fact which stands out in the history of science more than any other fact which stands out in the history of science....

Is it clear that the list of facts considered is restricted to those that stand out. IMO the ellipsis has been "over-qualified".

OK, this is not very convincing here, b/c we know that some facts stand out more than other, and from a purely logical/semantic perspective, some must stand out more than other, otherwise none would stand out!!
Let's take another context:

1) If there's one child more than any other that the teacher prefers
2) If there's one child that the teacher prefers more than any other child that she prefers

IMO, 1) sounds like "If she had to make a choice" while 2) is more like she already has several preferred children!
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Jim, what do you think?
I think you are quite right. You have made a nice analysis of the difference between those pairs of expressions! Hats off to you!Emotion: smile

Nevertheless, that leaves us (me, anyway) without an explanation of the construction. (Yes, I realize that your original question focused on whether the construction was common or rare, but I had hoped to go a bit farther than that, and find a good explanation of the "misplaced comparative phrase".)

What I was wondering (and now it's more my question than yours!) was: What expressions other than "more than any other" can trigger this leftward movement right out of the original clause? ("less" is an excellent candidate, but what else?) And: What conditions are necessary to trigger this movement? I was suspicious of the word "if"; I was suspicious of the word "one"; I was even suspicious of the word "fact". None of these lines of reasoning led very far, although I must say that I didn't put a lot of effort into it. I'm still suspicious of "one". "one ... more than any other" seems to be a unit.

Maybe you have some ideas on how to approach these questions.
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