1

I found the following sentence -

But there are some grains of fact, as the men whom he mentions Robert smith, John White, Thomas Roach and William Gates are all mentioned by Manucci as with Shah Jehan and Aurungzebe when Cambell was with Murad Baksh and Dara Shekoh, Smith and Roach also appear in the Surat Records in 1667 and 1672 and the son of the latter is mentioned in 1704.

Context

It is being talked about the authenticity of a narrative. It turned out that the narrative can't be considered to be true. But there are little fact in the narrative mostly because some names mentioned in the narrative is also mentioned by Manucci. And that Cambell is the traveller whose narrative is being talked about.

Source

I have problem understanding the meaning of the sentence, mostly because of the bold part of the sentence. I have problem parsing that part. Any help would be appreciated.

What I think it means -

"He (the narrator) mentioned the name of Robert smith, John White, Thomas Roach and William Gates, Shah Jehan and Aurungzebe. Manucci also mentioned the names of Robert smith, John White, Thomas Roach and William Gates. Not Shah Jehan and Aurungzebe. He (the narrator) mentioned Shah Jehan and Aurungzebe when Cambell was with Murad and Dara."

2

Mention is one of a large number of English verbs which can take, in addition to a Direct Object, a second Complement headed by as. The basic syntax is

Subject VERB X DirObj as Y.

This most common meaning of this construction, with verbs like name, describe, list, identify, is predicative: it indicates that in performing the action VERB, Subject also predicates Y of X. It thus means, essentially, X BE Y, and Y can take just about any form which might act as a complement to the verb BE in the semantic context determined by VERB: a noun phrase, an adjective phrase, a preposition phrase, a participle clause.

He named A, B, and C as possible candidates. = He named A, B, and C, indicating that they were possible candidates.
He described D as very reliable. = He described D, indicating that she was very reliable.
He listed E, F and G as among those considered. = He listed E, F and G, indicating that they were among those considered.
He identified H as having considerable support. = He identified H, indicating that she had considerable support.

In your example, mentioned ... as is used with a locative; the sense is Manucci mentioned these four men, indicating that they were with Shah Jehan and Aurungzebe at the same time as Campbell was with Murad and Dara.

The construction may have other meanings as well. With verbs like elect or rank it has the sense that Subject causes X to be Y, while with verbs like reject or despise it has the sense that Subject performs these actions because X is Y.

The town elected J as Mayor. = The town held an election and caused J to be Mayor.
K was rejected as insufficiently prepared.

1

If you change the beginning of your bolded phrase to as having been with Shah Jehan I think you'll be able to figure it out. There should also be a comma between "mentions Robert" and Gates are". This establishes the 4 names as a parenthetical phrase.

Just in case, though, it means that

There is a grain of fact, since the men he mentions (Smith, White, Roach and Gates), are all mentioned by Manucci. Manucci places (or placed, the tense is optional) them with Jehan and Aurungzebe at the same time that Campbell was with Murad and Dara.

It is an involved sentence of the sort used by Victorian historians.

  • What do you mean by "involved sentence"? And can you please analyze the sentence, so that I can better understand the way you got the meaning you mentioned in your answer? – Man_From_India Feb 18 '15 at 17:42
  • Involved means "complicated". The narrator mentions that Manucci mentions, and that's never a good start if you want clarity. Likewise the nesting of phrases makes the sentence unnecessarily hard to understand. The phrase "as with" is usually used as part of a comparison, "As with A, B", so seeing it in this sentence made it clear that "being with" or "having been with" was the intended phrase. Likewise the list of 4 names was obviously parenthetical, so the missing commas were needed. At this point the rest seems pretty obvious. – WhatRoughBeast Feb 18 '15 at 17:53
  • I take it this was as (having been) ... the part in bracket is elliptical. But now the question is how will I guess such kind of thing? – Man_From_India Feb 18 '15 at 17:55
  • I hate to say it, but being able to detect errors requires that you have a good feel for what is not an error. And that, I'm afraid, comes from experience and practice. – WhatRoughBeast Feb 18 '15 at 22:04

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