The Powers That Be

Benjamin Torbert btorbert at GMAIL.COM
Wed Apr 17 03:09:21 UTC 2013

Someone is asking me about this phrase, and I teach HOtEL, but I ain't no
bona fide historical linguist.

Have we antedated the phrase to ME (which was one of the hypotheses on

My feeling was that it's not really subjunctive, but rather durative.  It's
not that we're not sure whether these powers be.

Also, archaic forms are more likely to be preserved in archaic, set phrases.

Please advise,

The American Dialect Society -

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