X marrying Y <> Y marrying X?

Benjamin Barrett gogaku at IX.NETCOM.COM
Mon Sep 10 20:48:18 UTC 2007

Laurence Horn wrote:
> 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, "Will you marry me?" traditionally asked by the man. BB

The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

More information about the Ads-l mailing list