X marrying Y <> Y marrying X?

Mark Mandel thnidu at GMAIL.COM
Tue Sep 11 00:47:48 UTC 2007

Laurence Horn wrote:
> "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.

And Benjamin Barrett added:
> And, "Will you marry me?" traditionally asked by the man.

But that's linked to the asker, not to the male per se. Quote from
memory, from _A Civil Campaign_ by Lois McMaster Bujold:

[Ekaterin:] Lord Vorkosigan!

[Miles:] Yes, my lady? Yours to command!

[E:] Good. Will you marry me?

I feel no linguistic anomaly here, only the social one, which of
course is deliberate on the part of the author.

m a m

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

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