Where is the object of 'has' in: The nation has among the highest inflation rates?

2

The president of Venezuela announced last week that he and other government officials should take pay cuts as part of budget reductions. The Reuters news service says the reductions are meant to answer the lower oil prices. It says Venezuela gets 96 percent of its export earnings from oil sales. The nation has among the highest inflation rates in Latin America. (VOA Learning English)

When first seeing the script, I thought the ‘has’ must be the typo of ‘is,’ because I can’t see its complement before the following prepositional phrase, among the highest inflation rates. But the news presenter says ‘has.’ Can you tell me where is the complement of ‘has’? Is it the prepositional phrase, perchance? Can this be possible?

2Obviously what is meant is The nation has inflation rates among the highest [inflation rates] in Latin America. I've never encountered VOA's use, deleting the first instance of the object instead of the second. I think this is merely a mistake, a brain-burp on the analogy of some of the highest ...; but it's just the sort of colloquial shortcut, recategorizing the preposition as an adjective, that might eventually become grammaticalized. – StoneyB on hiatus – 2014-12-15T10:48:28.943

2The expression struck me as both strange and familiar. I know I've heard it but I would never use it. It sounds like NPR-copy to me, a "formal-sounding" alternative to one of the highest. I checked Google ngram for has among the * and then Googled "has among the highest" and the results show that it gets used fairly frequently. – Tᴚoɯɐuo – 2014-12-15T13:00:47.247

@StoneyB Are we sure it's not singular an inflation rate amongst the highest inflation rates ... ? – Araucaria - Not here any more. – 2014-12-15T13:18:08.150

Here's one that asks to be rewritten among-the-highest, supporting StoneyB's conjectured recategorization as adjective: "The US population has among the highest life expectancy" (The American Challenge: The World Resists US Liberalism by David Mosler, Professor Bob Catley). – Tᴚoɯɐuo – 2014-12-15T15:01:44.287

1@Araucaria I thought of that; but it seemed to me that a casual writer would suit her number to the target, as TRomano's writer immediately above selects the singular. – StoneyB on hiatus – 2014-12-15T16:22:26.303

@StoneyB Do you think that that life-expectancy is a countable usage? I'm not sure either way ... – Araucaria - Not here any more. – 2014-12-15T16:24:13.220

1@Araucaria "While some experts assume that life expectancy must be approaching an upper limit, data on life expectancies between 1840 and 2007 show a steady increase averaging about three months of life per year." - National Institute on Aging – StoneyB on hiatus – 2014-12-15T16:29:18.580

@StoneyB Yes, it definitely van be count :) Question is, is it in TRomano's example? – Araucaria - Not here any more. – 2014-12-15T16:30:31.970

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Consider the sentence without the "among": "The nation has the highest inflation rate in Latin America." That's clear and simple, right?

But I suppose the reality -- without checking the statistics -- is that Venezuela doesn't have the absolute highest, but it is near the top. You could say, "The nation has an inflation rate that is among the highest in Latin America". But it's a fairly common phrasing to say "it has among the highest". The grammar is a little tortured but we can see what the writer means.

"Checking the statistics" would not do much good, because both Argentina and Venezuela persecute people who try to collect accurate inflation statistics. They also manipulate foreign exchange rates, and have peculiar price-control laws, to try to keep down the prices of items in the "market baskets" used to calculate the official inflation rates. – Jasper – 2014-12-16T02:11:29.457

Good point. Statistics have a tendency to prove that government policies are extremely effective when anyone who publishes statistics that DON'T show government policies as being extremely effective is shot. – Jay – 2014-12-16T15:13:03.843

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The example sentence has poor grammar.

The following possibilities would be correct:

• "The nation's inflation rate is among the highest in Latin America."
• "The nation has one of the highest inflation rates in Latin America."
• "Venezuela and Argentina have the highest inflation rates in Latin America."