Re:       Re: English Sentences Without Overt Grammatical Subjects

RonButters at AOL.COM RonButters at AOL.COM
Tue Apr 26 19:39:41 UTC 2005

In a message dated 4/26/05 2:48:45 PM, laurence.horn at YALE.EDU writes:

> For Quang, now that I think of it, the crucial parallel is with other
> XP constructions where no verb (much less subject) is involved:
> Down with Nixon!
> (God)damn all of those imperialist butchers!
> Away with the running dog colonialists!
> (Remember, Quang was affiliated with South Hanoi, and the war was on.
> As an atheist, he was also free to observe the ungrammaticality of
> "Goddamn Himself", which he took to argue that "God" is not the
> implicit subject of "Damn"-type drecatives [pace Barbara Partee,
> IIRC].)
> L

Well, McC may have been an atheist, but goddamnit, most people aren't.
(Moreover, McC did not believe in unicorns, but he could say "Go screw a unicorn!")
Surely "God" is the AGENT in "God damn the bloody linguists!" -- again, a sort
of subjunctive ("Let the bloody linguists be damned by God"). Similarly,
"Down with Bush!" means 'May it come to pass that Bush be put down! [i.e., out of
power]." The agent is understood, but "Bush" serves exactly the same
grammatical function (PATIENT or whatever term you like) in both "Down with Bush!" and
"Fuck Bush!"

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