This layout poses many dangers for the serious historian, not the least of which being the scornful reception that academics - motivated partly by snobbish elitism but also by genuine concern over scholarly standard - generally reserve for books apparently aimed at the popular market.

To my understanding, this sentence means that the layout may cause dangers to the serious historian, especially the scornful receptions from other academics. I am wondering if I can change the sentence into something like:

This layout poses many dangers for the serious historian, among which not the least is the scornful reception reserved for books aimed at the popular market.

Is "is" grammatically correct in the sentence I put forward? Is not, why "being" would be grammatically correct? Also, why does the author put "not the least" in front of "of which"?

  • In my opinion it would be better as 'not the least of which is'. Feb 3 at 11:23

Yes you can. The resulting sentences will have different structures, but the same meaning.

A participial clause used like that is called an absolute clause, and is a rather literary device: most people would not use such a structure in speech. It gives more detail about something in the sentence, or some background to the sentence.

In this case it is saying more about the dangers.

Putting not the least before of which is again a somewhat literary style (as it the litotes in the phrase "not the least" itself). "Of which not the least" would be grammatical, but a bit awkward.

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.