Wow Rex...this article was awhile back and don't know if you're still with us, but all of this makes me think of Shirley and Don Snyder. Some very good times with very dear people. Hope you are well...Mikki
Out of 270 religious organizations in Colorado Springs, found in the Yellow Pages, there is one local Mosque and, as near as I can find, one Islamic organization. Colorado Springs Muslims don’t seem to organize for involvement in local politics, don’t publish political periodicals, don’t involve their religion in political issues, don’t proselytize, don’t fund institutes that promote intelligent design, anti choice, prayer in public schools, or political candidates.
When/if local Muslims undertake the high intensity, heavily funded, political endeavors of certain Christian organizations, I suspect that they too would gain the Indy’s attention and, well deserved, “disdain”.
"The Merriam-Webster online dictionary defines predicate: "grammar : the part of a sentence that expresses what is said about the subject." No mention of a verb at all."
Sadly dictionaries will be the first to tell you that they are not steadfast standards, but rather just reflections on the current usage of words. If enough people start calling a potato an "orange", the dictionary changes. However, you are just playing sour grapes now since your original dictionary reference used the word "verb".
"Fortunately for me, it does not have to be a predicate for the opening words to be a clause. "We call any clause whose main verb is a non-finite verb a non-finite clause." . Three earnest and erudite English scholars and pedants, yet not a one of you able to point that out."
Unfortunately for you, far more will tell you that a clause must contain a finite verb.
Sorry to put a damper on your victory proclamation.
"Note the word 'verb' as opposed to 'verbal'. The former refers to finite verbs, the latter to non-finite verbs, which includes participles and gerunds."
The Merriam-Webster online dictionary defines predicate: "grammar : the part of a sentence that expresses what is said about the subject." No mention of a verb at all.
I was waiting, in vain, for a citation for the rule that a verbal could not be part of a predicate, so finally I looked it up for myself and confirmed you are all absolutely correct. Fortunately for me, it does not have to be a predicate for the opening words to be a clause. "We call any clause whose main verb is a non-finite verb a non-finite clause." . Three earnest and erudite English scholars and pedants, yet not a one of you able to point that out.
So, you have won the battle, but lost the war. This is what I meant about repeating grammatical rules cribbed from the web without understanding them.
Dave H, if there were no controversy surrounding these words, you would not be writing English language experts for their opinion. I started out thinking it could not possibly be a phrase, but I have changed my position after surfing the web, and now I say it could be read either way. Furthermore, I have already pointed out that it makes no difference to my argument whether it is a clause or a phrase, except that as a phrase it makes the argument even stronger.
So far, everyone has ignored the point of my statement, preferring to waste time on arcane grammatical terminology: things that appear within the same sentence are usually related to each other in some manner. This whole business of labeling parts of sentences as nouns, verbs, phrases, clauses, etc. is the study of these relationships, and thus implies such a relationship exists.
I must confess the only reason I got involved in the grammar war at all was my vanity. I do not enjoy being told I do not understand basic English grammar by condescending ideologues who are cribbing from tendentious sources because they never really paid much attention to English classes in school. Had I known there was so much material to parrot back at me, I would never have stepped into this morass to begin with.
haha what is this corporate shill. Tons of other sites out there that are actually useful. Try Leafbuyer or others that actually have content to navigate.
"The Oxford Dictionaries website, defines predicate as "The part of a sentence or clause containing a verb and stating something about the subject." No mention of any need for the verb to be a finite or action verb.."
Note the word "verb" as opposed to "verbal". The former refers to finite verbs, the latter to non-finite verbs, which includes participles and gerunds.
Well Mr. K, I can't speak for the others, but in my case, beginning in 1996 I wrote to over 20 professors of English and linguistics that I chose at random from various universities and colleges across the US, to include from UCLA, Stanford, and BYU, as well as one from Oxford, UK. Every last one of them told me that the first 13 words are an absolute phrase, not a clause at all.
The term "absolutive clausal adjunct" appears to be an obscure term used by some (primarily appears to trace back to one Geoff Pullum in 2004) to refer to an absolute phrase. So obscure that a Google search will only yield about 10 hits, several of them repeats or references to Pullum's entry in a blog.
Compare to the term "absolute phrase" which pulls in around 20,000 and has been well documented for over 100 years. An absolute phrase stands outside the grammar of the main clause to which they are attached. They are non-restrictive phrases containing an object which is not part of the attached clause and the object is addressed by a participle instead of a finite verb, plus any modifiers to the object and participle. Absolute phrases act adverbially through the predicate of the clause to give background information to the action of the clause.
Considering the criteria to be a clause and the input of bona fide experts in the field, I'd have to say that it is not a clause.
I have been reconsidering my use of the word "effective." From the start my main complaint has been that such arguments are legalistic, so perhaps the grammatical argument is indeed effective in court. But I was speaking of those of us who are not lawyers and inclined to think that lawyers are sometimes the problem, not the solution.
Has the Supreme Court ever taken a position on whether the first part of the amendment is a phrase or a clause?
I would like to apologize to you, Odin and Radio guy, for writing that you believe the case "can be made effectively *only* on a strictly grammatical basis." I dropped the word "only" into the mix at the last moment, and I realized after it was posted that it was wrong. In fact, you have both made excellent historical points.
Nevertheless, I still maintain that a purely grammatical argument is not effective. Since my discovery of the plenitude of such bickering on the web, however, I better understand the impulse. There is as little agreement as to whether the opening words constitute a phrase or a clause on the Internet as there is in this thread, and if I had known the subject had been rehashed so many times by so many real experts on grammar and usage, I would never have touched it. The very fact that all these experts have arrived at opposite conclusions show the weakness of a purely grammatical approach.
"Incorrect assumption on your part." It was not an assumption. It was a speculation.
"Nothing I have written even suggests that it was chosen at random." I do not recall that you ventured a suggestion as to why this particular justification was chosen over all the others possible. Did I miss something? If you do not think it was random, why do you think it was selected?
I must admit to being a bit taken aback when Odin identified "being necessary" as a participial phrase. Now, Radio guy blindsides me with a "catena of finite or action verbs."
The chances of meeting not just one, but two English professors in this blog on the same thread seem to me to be astronomical. So, I decided to do some research and discovered there are dozens of sites dedicated to thrashing this very question out. In fact, they spend many hours and electrons arguing about the meaning of the three commas in the sentence. Here I am, simply depending on my education and training, thinking Odin and Radio guy are doing likewise, but instead they could be merely cutting and pasting grammatical buzz words, without really understanding what they mean.
Here is citation from one of those sites that I particularly admire: "The sentence begins with what is traditionally known as an absolutive clausal adjunct — a gerund-participial clause functioning as an adjunct in clause structure. It is understood as if it began with 'since' or 'because' or 'in view of the fact that' (notice that 'Our situation being hopeless, we surrendered' means 'Since our situation was hopeless, we surrendered')."
So, Radio guy, I see your "catena or chain of verbs which contains a finite or action verb" and raise you "a gerund-participial clause."
My initial post in this thread began, "I do not think a strictly grammatical analysis of the amendment will suffice. It is the kind of legalistic approach that leads to endless quibbling and hair-splitting." That has certainly been borne out.
Radio guy, you took offense when I wrote, "According to your Number 2 principle, two clauses do not ever refer to each other just because they happen to find themselves in the same sentence." You insist it is a phrase, not a clause, which misses the point.
For the sake of argument I will allow that it may be read either as a phrase or as a clause, but it only serves to strengthen my argument. Let me rephrase: According to your Number 2 principle, a phrase does not refer to the clause of which it is a meaningful part.
"A predicate has an action or finite verb."
The Oxford Dictionaries website, defines predicate as "The part of a sentence or clause containing a verb and stating something about the subject." No mention of any need for the verb to be a finite or action verb.
This comment thread is an excellent example of why Colorado Springs will never have to worry that progressive, interesting and creative people will take over...
"First, Radio guy seems to think that this one odd reason was chosen at random. "
Incorrect assumption on your part. Nothing I have written even suggests that it was chosen at random.
And in case you missed it, it was happyfew who started the discussion regarding the grammar of the Second. We were merely refuting his completely inept conclusion, when you jumped into the middle of it. I can easily discuss the historical and the legal attributes regarding the Second Amendment. So, your assertion that we "think that their case can be made effectively only on a strictly grammatical basis" is yet another faulty assumption on your part.
A predicate has an action or finite verb. A participle is a non-finite form of verb used to modify a noun in a way similar to an adjective or adverb. While participles can help form a predicate, they can only be the main verb of the predicate when part of a catena or chain of verbs which contains a finite or action verb.
So no, the first thirteen words are not a clause.
Robert Wyman, there are indeed plenty of issues with our legal system. People with money can (literally) get away with murder, like the teen who used affluenza as his defense against homicide by car. People who are poor, minority, or both, however, can be and frequently are locked up for life or executed, regardless of their innocence or the relative triviality of their offense (e.g., the war on drugs). There is an organization named HALT (which, if memory serves, originally stood for Help Abolish Legal Tyranny) that advocates and educates on issues of judicial abuse and access like correcting systemic biases against minorities, disciplining instances of attorney malfeasance, requiring the use of plain language instead of legalese, allowing paralegals to practice, etc.
Doug Bruce is another case entirely. He is a wealthy person who is constantly in court, either fighting to impose his political beliefs on others or trying to get away with not complying with regulations as a landlord, etc. His legal troubles can be summed up as matters of choice, and when people go to to court on a matter of personal choice (especially when the issue serves not a socially beneficial purpose like ending segregation but their own agenda and aggrandizement), they can jolly well pay their own damn fees and not foist them off on the taxpayer. That Bruce tries to attach the first set of issues to his own situation has the merit of being consistent with his character and modus operendi, but nothing else. My initial note was intended to highlight the irony, if not the hypocrisy, of Bruce the TABOR advocate trying to shift his personal legal costs to the taxpayer.
What amuses me most is that my critics do not seem to realize we are substantially in agreement on the major point of this issue. Radio guy does indeed express it well: "what the beginning of the sentence does is to show one, but not the only, reason..." That is exactly my point as well. I believe it is the major point and we all agree on that.
We disagree only on two minor points. First, Radio guy seems to think that this one odd reason was chosen at random. I do not know if Odin concurs. I think this particular reason was chosen on purpose, for reasons already elaborated.
Second, both Radio guy and Odin think that their case can be made effectively only on a strictly grammatical basis, without any reference to history and other factors. I think that the Second Amendment, taken in a vacuum, could be interpreted either way with equal validity.
I wrote that British troops "should not have taken any weapons from loyal subjects who were not members of the militia, and I do not know that they violated this rule." I think my point may not be as clear to others as it appears to me. I am not naive, so I know the British were quite capable of confiscating all firearms from all citizens under one of several pretexts. They could claim they could not distinguish which citizens were members of the state militia and which were not, or that any arms left in the hands of innocent civilians would eventually make it into the hands of a patriot.
As I wrote previously, I do not know that the British used these tactics, and would appreciate the information if anyone does know.
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