X marrying Y <> Y marrying X?

Landau, James James.Landau at NGC.COM
Tue Sep 11 21:00:35 UTC 2007

-----Original Message-----
From: Mark Mandel [mailto:thnidu at GMAIL.COM]
Sent: Monday, September 10, 2007 8:48 PM
Subject: Re: X marrying Y <> Y marrying X?

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


You forget that Miles had already proposed to Ekaterin and been told in
no uncertain terms that she did not want him to ask her again.  So the
only way they could get engaged would be for Ekaterin to ask.

Somewhat more on-topic: The main theme of Bujold's latest "The Sharing
Knife" series (two books out so far) is miscegenation.  No, it is NOT an
allegory of the US experience; there is no history of slavery or
Separate-But-Unequal.  Instead the plot arises out of a more general
state of ignorance and xenophobia.

(TSK is a good read but Bujold would have done better to condense the
two books into one.)

> >-----Original Message-----
> >From: Laurence Horn [mailto:laurence.horn at YALE.EDU]
> >Sent: Sunday, September 09, 2007 11:37 PM
> >Subject: Re: X marrying Y <> Y marrying X?
> >
> <snip> We know exactly what [the current Supreme Court justices] think
> affirmative action too, especially any member of the court who might
> have "practiced" (profited from the opportunities offered by) it, and
> who would therefore be expected to support its availability for
> others....Oops.

1.  Miscegenation was a single issue, settled in a single court case.
"Affirmative Action" is an umbrella term for a large number of
initiatives, some good, some bad.  As one example, athletic scholarships
are a form of AA.

2.  Your sneer at Justice Thomas ("profited from...") is wide of the
mark.  Thomas in his time at the Civil Rights Commission had
considerable experience at writing and enforcing AA regulations.  The
proper question is: what lessons did he learn?

3.  Just to add to the complications, I can imagine a pro-AA advocate
arguing to the more conservative of the Supreme Court justices that the
doctrine of judicial restraint should prevent the Supreme Court from
trying to micro-manage whatever specific part of AA was being debated.

Wilson Gray wrote:

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.

What your teacher said is correct in many countries but not in the US,
where in addition to being the Church's representative the priest is
also a civil official of the state, charged to act as the state's
official representative/witness to the ceremony.  In that sense, the
clergyperson DOES "marry" the couple.

"state rules regarding marriage are simply not the church's business" is
not true, at least in New Jersey, where with "civil unions" there is a
specific rule that an ordained minister does not have to perform a civil
union if s/he prefers not to.

Jewish rules on marriage were set up in Talmudic days when the Bet Din
(the rabbinical court) had civil authority as well as religious.  There
are problems with Jewish marriages (actually with Jewish divorces) in
the United States because the Bet Din does NOT have civil authority.

In Judaism the performative act is the groom saying to the bride, in
Hebrew, "with this ring I thee wed according to the Laws of Moses and
Israel."  In Hebrew it is a mouthful (19 syllables) and many grooms need
to be coached through it.  The trouble is, if the rabbi is male and says
the actual words, he and not the intended groom has now become the

So the rabbi says "H at rei aht mik at deshet the word 'li'...", so that by
sticking in the English he is not saying the correct Hebrew phrase and
therefore he is safe.  Unfortunately it is common for nervous grooms to
parrot the rabbi too exactly and say "the word li" which means he isn't
getting married either!

James A. Landau
test engineer
Northrop-Grumman Information Technology
8025 Black Horse Pike, Suite 300
West Atlantic City NJ 08232 USA


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

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