Part of a sentence from a novel:
… zum erstenmal kam sein Ton dem nahe, wie er wohl normalerweise sprach.
Could someone please explain what the grammatical status and purpose of the "dem" is in this sentence?
Nahekommen (to approximate/resemble sth.) requires a dative object as complement:
Since in this case the complement is a postpositioned subclause, we need to substitute it. It cannot be plainly omitted in the main clause.
Furthermore, we have a subclause with the relative adverb wie that doesn't refer directly to the sentence. Compare these two sentences to see the difference direct vs. indirect reference:
- Direct: Zum ersten Mal kam sein Ton seinem Sprachstil nahe, wie man sofort bemerkte.
- Indirect: Zum ersten Mal kam sein Ton dem Sprachstil nahe, wie er wohl normalerweise sprach.
Thus also the subclause needs an anchor in the main clause.
As Felixus did in his answer, I would replace wie by in dem for stylistical and maybe even grammatical reasons. I consider der Sprachstil, wie er normalerweise sprach a syntactical borderline case.