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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 > 'such > >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.
> Andreas
Padraic. ===== il dunar-li c' argeont ayn politig; celist il pozponer le mbutheor ayn backun gras. __________________________________________________ Do you Yahoo!? Y! Web Hosting - Let the expert host your web site


Tristan <kesuari@...>