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“PEN has warned them that to act against me would be to violate academic freedom. If a university can censure a teacher for quoting James Baldwin and raising with graduate students – students who are aspiring writers – the issues involved in changing the words of an iconic American writer, then surely much is threatened and much is at stake, for thousands of people teaching throughout this country,” she said.

(The Guardian.)

Is "much" a noun in then surely much is threatened and much is at stake in the passage above?

Isn't it a bit awkward to put the complement the issues involved in changing the words of an iconic American writer farther from the transitive "raising", the head of the VP, in the non-finite clause?

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tkacka15Isn't it a bit awkward to put the complement the issues involved in changing the words of an iconic American writer farther from the transitive "raising", the head of the VP, in the non-finite clause?

Yes, a bit. We are normally told that nothing must intervene between a verb and its direct object — or that complements are always placed closer than modifiers or adjuncts to the head of a phrase.

But this is a case where the complement is "heavy" (long), and that sanctions the repositioning of the components of the sentence.

CJ

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The issues involved in changing the words of an iconic American writer is best called a direct object for clarity (though it is a subtype of complement).

I can't see anything awkward about the structure. The sentence is well-formed and easy to understand.

"Much" is not a noun. It belongs to the category determinative. In your example it functions as a special kind of fused-head NP, where it combines the functions of determiner and head.

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Is "much" a noun in then surely much is threatened and much is at stake in the passage above? Yes, it is.

Isn't it a bit awkward to put the complement the issues involved in changing the words of an iconic American writer farther from the transitive "raising", the head of the VP, in the non-finite clause? It doesn't seem awkward to me. I think it's quite well-written and not hard to understand..

How would you rewrite it?

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Thank you for the replies.

 CalifJim's reply was promoted to an answer.

Note that object postposing is possible in the case of PPs serving as complement of a transitive verb, as in your example. Objects can also be postposed over locative PPs:

You'll find in the drawer a list of the candidates.

Ed quickly turned around and saw on the table a gun.


Incidentally, the expression students who are aspiring writers is a supplementary appositive, not a constituent nor even part of one.


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