semantic drift: "office/ power"

Geoffrey Nunberg nunberg at ISCHOOL.BERKELEY.EDU
Sun Jul 1 22:28:16 UTC 2007

>In the old days, national leaders of constitutional democracies were
>uniformly said to "take office." From that point on, they were "in
>   Dictators of the Hitler-Stalin-Mao type were said to "take power"
>and be "in power."
>   Well, voters, the allegedly pro-Republican Fox News Channel
>describes George W. Bush as being "in power." Prime Minister Gordon
>Brown is said to have "taken power" this week.
>   I've been noticing this usage for a number of months. Means
>nothing, of course....

... and Ron Hutcheson at McClatchy says that recent events have
"exposed Bush's political weakness and shaken his hold on power."

Geoff Nunberg

The American Dialect Society -

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