Powers that be were Re: Newbie says hi
|From:||Padraic Brown <elemtilas@...>|
|Date:||Friday, November 1, 2002, 23:38|
--- Andreas Johansson <and_yo@...> wrote:
> > > * Why is it "the powers that be", and not the
> > > "powers that are"?
> > >
> >subjunctive. i imagine it could be paraphrased
> >powers as exist', using the subjunctive to mark
> >generality. not sure if this is a native germanic
> >useage or a nicking of the latin one
> Nice to see you unenlightened anglophones keeping
> the subjunctive at least a
> little bit alive! :-)
The subjunctive is alive and well in English. You
Forners just can't tell, cos it's a Trade Secret. ;)
No, really, the once distinct subjunctive and
indicative endings simply ended up the same, i.e., "-"
except the 3s indic which remains steadfastly "-s".
That is, they are morphologically identical.
The phrase given is probably not subjunctive at all -
it doesn't read like one to me at least. A good use of
the present subjunctive is Henry's "If this be
liberty..."; it shows doubt, concession, et.c. (while
the past subjunctive shows contrary to fact).
Wright notes that "be" (<beth), an indicative verb,
was current up into the 16th century or thereafter
(and indeed survives in forms of American), and
survived a quhile longer in formal language. The KJV
_certainly_ counts as a use of formal language; and as
John pointed out, "are are" looks bad together.
It looks to me like the bible translator was simply
avoiding the "are are" conjunction.
il dunar-li c' argeont ayn politig;
celist il pozponer le mbutheor ayn backun gras.
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