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According to the Cambridge Grammar Of The English Language, the as-clause as a dependent of a nominal could be interpreted as follows:

  1. "The plan as current conceived" means the plan was conceived in such-and-such a form.
  2. "The church as it was in 1900" means the church was in such-and-such a state in 1900.

So, for this made-up phrase of mine:

the law as it affected people

I try an interpretation similar to the first two phrases in the grammar text:

the law was in such-and-such [something]

But I don't know what that [something] should be. Did I make an error?


EDIT:

Inspiration for this question came from pages 1146 and 1150 of the CGOTEL.

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    Your interpretation does not parallel the CGEL constructions, where the verb in the definition is the verb in the as clause. Try this: The law affected people in such-and-such ways. Jul 28, 2014 at 2:59
  • @StoneyB Do you have a copy of the CGOTEL? I added to the my question the page numbers of the CGOTEL where I found the example phrases.
    – meatie
    Jul 28, 2014 at 4:18
  • 3
    @meatie I noticed that so far you have not accepted any of the answers to your questions. Does this mean we have not been able to help you even once? If you find an answer helpful, it is a good idea to mark it as one. Here is how it is done: ell.stackexchange.com/tour
    – fluffy
    Jul 28, 2014 at 8:14
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    Here's a real example of use: "Edwards published an account of the legal status of women in Canada in 1908 and a review of Alberta law as it affected women and children in 1917". Is this example representative of the usage you're interested in?
    – Nico
    Jul 28, 2014 at 13:09
  • @Nico Yes! So what does it mean? "Alberta law as it affected women"?
    – meatie
    Jul 28, 2014 at 13:23

1 Answer 1

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Short answer

I think the meaning of as in:

the law as it affected people

corresponds to acception 2 in the Collins dictionary under subordinating conjunction, and thus, it could be rewritten as:

the law in the way that it affected people


Longer answer

To understand why this use of as is classified as that of a subrodinating conjunction is better to consider a full example:

Edwards published an account of the legal status of women in Canada in 1908 and a review of Alberta law as it affected women and children in 1917.
(The Prairie West as Promised Land, edited by R. Douglas Francis, Chris Kitzan)

The above example is a complex sentence, made up of a main clause and a subordinated clause.

The main clause:

Edwards published an account of the legal status of women in Canada in 1908 and a review of Alberta law

is called main, because it could appear without the subordinated clause. The subordinated clause:

as it affected women and children in 1917.

is called subordinated because its meaning is incomplete without the main clause.

The subordinating conjunction defines the relation between the main and the subordinated clause. In this case, as clarifies that "the review of Alberta law" is limited to the effects that this law has upon people.

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  • So, the "as" in "the law as it affected people" is different from the "as" in, let say, "the church as *it existed in 1900", with the latter phrase not suffering the same incompleteness that the former phrase suffers?
    – meatie
    Jul 29, 2014 at 10:33
  • @meatie I think it is the same, because you can still replace "as" with "in the way/manner/form/style/fashion that", i.e.: "the church in the way that it existed in 1900".
    – Nico
    Jul 29, 2014 at 10:48
  • But "the church as it existed in 1900" seems to be more standalone than "the law as it affected people", because in the former, the "as" does not need to reach outside the phrase to modify something, whereas in the latter the "as" has to reach outside the phrase.
    – meatie
    Jul 29, 2014 at 10:59
  • Here is an example where "the christian law as it affected muslims" stands alone.
    – Nico
    Jul 29, 2014 at 11:14
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    Neither "the law as it affected people" nor "the church as it existed in 1900" is a complete sentence.
    – Nico
    Jul 29, 2014 at 11:18

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