"Hagrid," said Harry, panting a bit as he ran to keep up, "did you say there are dragons at Gringotts?"
"Well, so they say," said Hagrid.
"Crikey, I'd like a dragon."
"You'd like one?"
"Wanted one ever since I was a kid –– here we go."
They had reached the station. There was a train to London in five minutes' time. Hagrid, who didn't understand "Muggle money," as he called it, gave the bills to Harry so he could buy their tickets.
(Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone)

Is ‘as’ a pronoun and direct object of ‘called’?

  • 2
    Wow. This one's beyond me. Within the clause it does function syntactically like a relative pronoun, doesn't it?--but with adverbial force. [As] he called it _He called it [thus]. Perhaps this is one for @snailboat. – StoneyB on hiatus Oct 8 '13 at 13:36
  • @StoneyB, you've told exactly what I'm guessing. (1) Consulting my Korean English grammar book, 'as' is a similar relative; (2) but when I interpret it in my own tongue, it slides into like an adverbial. – Listenever Oct 8 '13 at 13:48
  • @StoneyB: I can't see how it functions syntactically as a relative pronoun. You could perhaps call it "adverbial", but I'd say it's OED conjunction usage definition: In a subordinate clause which expresses the manner, degree, time, place, reason, purpose, or result, of the main clause. As ever, I think there's a law of diminishing returns when it comes to classifying things like this. – FumbleFingers Reinstate Monica Oct 8 '13 at 13:52
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    @StoneyB: Sure, you can "loosely" replace as with which, so, thus, etc. in this construction. But given there's already an actual pronoun it in there, I don't really see how as can be another one. And to me, it feels more like a conjunction than an adverb. Effectively, it's embedding he called [the thing he didn't understand] Muggle money into the existing noun phrase Muggle money. That's only my opinion, as you know. (In which sentence I can swap the words before/after the comma, and/or delete as completely, so it's not really doing much). – FumbleFingers Reinstate Monica Oct 8 '13 at 16:39
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    Might this question be well received on ELU? – Tyler James Young Oct 8 '13 at 18:08

The words how and as can function as adverbial relative pronouns with verbs like call.

The verb call can be used in different ways:

  1. With an object complement denoting the name you assign:

    He called her his mistress.

  2. With an adverbial constituent of manner denoting how you call something, often similar to assigning a name:

    Her called her by her last name.

The words how and as (similar to the adverbial phrase the way [that]) can replace the adverbial phrase and function as adverbial relative pronouns, just like where:

He is here. (adverb / adverbial demonstrative pronoun of place)

Where is he? (adverbial interrogative pronoun)

Mordor is where the shadows lie. (adverbial relative pronoun, defining relative clause)

He is in Mordor, where the shadows lie. (adverbial relative pronoun, non-defining)

With so/how/as:

So is Gondor. (adverb / adverbial demonstrative pronoun of manner)

How is Gondor? (adverbial interrogative pronoun)

Gondor is how I imagined it. (adverbial relative pronoun, defining)

Gondor is as it should be. (adverbial relative pronoun, defining)

She opposes Sauron, as she should do. (adverbial relative pronoun, non-defining)

With verbs meaning "address or assign a name to":

They named Mordor so because of its dark shadows: mor means "dark", dor "land".

They called it thus. (adverb / adverbial demonstrative pronoun of manner)

?They called Mordor so.

?How would you call a land like Mordor but in present-day Asia?

?That's not as they called it in the Silmarillion. (adverbial relative pronoun, defining)

Mordor, or 'the land where the shadows lie', as they called it, was well defended. (non-defining)

With the word call, the construction with an object complement (1) is common and always possible. The construction with an adverbial constituent (2), however, is only common with normal adverbial phrases, with the adverbial demonstrative pronoun thus, and with as used as an adverbial relative pronoun introducing a non-defining relative clause, as in the last example and also in your example. I don't have an explanation for this: language is fickle.

Because object complements (1) and adverbial phrases (2) are often interchangeable with verbs like call, they tend to blur together sometimes. In non-standard English, you will even find as used as a simple subject or object relative pronoun:

%The critter as did this was a big one. ("The critter that did this was a big one.")

  • +1 Good to see me and Listenever weren't just making it up. – StoneyB on hiatus Oct 9 '13 at 19:45
  • @StoneyB: Haha, thanks. It's interesting how so and that can be interchangeable even with do: in she did so / she did that, the manner in which she acts can be semantically/referentially identical to the thing she acts upon. This reminds me of how -ion and all other kinds of nouns of action can also mean both the act itself and the result of the act or something else related to the act (mainly, but not only, when used as a semantic theme?): the selection of wines took all day v. we have a large selection of wines. – Cerberus Oct 9 '13 at 20:29

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