X marrying Y <> Y marrying X?

Wilson Gray hwgray at GMAIL.COM
Mon Sep 10 20:45:05 UTC 2007

Back in the 'Fiddies, a Jesuit religion teacher explained to the class
that _the man and the woman marry each other_. The priest is present
only as the official representative of the church to bear witness to
the sacramentality of the ceremony [this could be used to argue that,
if the priest represents only the church, then state rules regarding
marriage are simply not the church's business, since the state has
nothing to say regarding sacramentality] and himself does not "marry"
the couple. Nevertheless, people still say that the priest / rabbi /
minister / judge, etc. "marries" the couple a half-century later.


On 9/10/07, Laurence Horn <laurence.horn at yale.edu> wrote:
> ---------------------- Information from the mail header -----------------------
> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster:       Laurence Horn <laurence.horn at YALE.EDU>
> Subject:      Re: X marrying Y <> Y marrying X?
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
> At 3:21 PM -0400 9/10/07, Baker, John wrote:
> >         The point is, if it's mutual, you don't have to tell who is the
> >marrier and who is the marriee.  I suppose that the Commonwealth of
> >Virginia would have contrasted their statute to a hypothetical statute
> >that imposed penalties upon a black person who entered into marriage
> >with a white person, but not upon the white spouse.
> >
> >         I am reminded of Dunsany's story, "Jorkens' Revenge," in which
> >the eponymous hero won a bet that the distance from Westminster Bridge
> >to Blackfriars Bridge is greater than the distance from Blackfriars
> >Bridge to Westminster Bridge.  The other characters somehow expected
> >that the two distances would be the same.
> >
> "marry" has not always been taken to be reciprocal or symmetric.
> Here is R. G. White (_Words and their Uses_, 1886: 139-40) on the
> topic:
> ==================
> The usual form of making the announcement is -- Married, John Smith
> with Mary Jones, and in others -- John Smith and Mary Jones.  I have
> no hesitation in saying all these forms are incorrect.  We know,
> indeed, what is meant by any one of them; but the same is true of
> hundreds and thousands of erroneous uses of language. Properly
> speaking, a man is not married to a woman, or married with her; nor
> are a man and woman married with each other. The woman is marrried to
> the man. It is her name that is lost in his, not his in hers; she
> mbecomes a member of his family, not he of hers; it is her life that
> is merged, or supposed to be merged, in his, not his in hers; hse
> follows his fortunes, and takes his station not he hers. And thus,
> manifestly, she has been attached to him by a legal bond, not he to
> her; except, indeed, as all attachment is necessarily mutual. But
> nevertheless, we do not speak of tying a ship to a boat, but a boat
> to a ship. And so long, as least, as man is the larger, the stronger,
> the more individually important, as long as woman generally lives in
> her husband's house and bears his name, -- still more should she not
> bear his name, --it is the woman who is married to the man.
> ====================
> And don't you forget it.
> (Cited by Ann Bodine in her excellent "Androcentrism in prescriptive
> grammar", Language in Society, 1975.  Talk about prescriptivism!)
> LH
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