Re: English word order and bumper stickers
|From:||Jim Henry <jimhenry@...>|
|Date:||Wednesday, September 15, 2004, 16:37|
"Mark J. Reed" <markjreed@...> wrote:
>Saw a bumper sticker this morning that gave me pause:
> AMERICA BLESS GOD
>Now, this is not the appropriate forum to discuss my feelings on the
>USA's recent theocratic tendencies, nor do I wish to do so. No, what
>we have here is a striking example of the importance of word order in
>English. Sure, we have subject becoming object and vice-versa, but
>that's old hat; "dog bites man", etc. But in the same swell foop....
>Of course, I assume that we have a simple mistake in intent, where the
>author hasn't quite twigged onto the unidirectionality of mortal/deity
>interaction verbs in English, i.e. gods do the blessing, while worshippers
>are limited to praise/cursing, supplication, etc.
That's the most common usage for "bless", but not the only one. "Bless"
can also be used as more or less a synonym of "praise",
and in this sense is typically used with a human as the subject and God
"Then took he [Simeon] him [Jesus] up in his arms, and blessed God,
and said: "Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace......"
Then there is the Litany of the Sacred Heart, which begins
"Blessed be God"; the passive participle implies that "bless" is
being used in the sense it's used in Luke 2:28 in most English
The author of the bumper sticker is therefore strongly suggesting that
Americans should praise God, in a manner elliptical, but not
- Jim Henry