Date: Thu, 4 Dec 1997 09:48:15 -0500

From: Gregory {Greg} Downing downingg[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE]IS2.NYU.EDU

Subject: Responsibility of (Was: No Heading)

At 09:31 AM 12/4/97 -0500, you wrote:

I just finished 15 papers on Paradise Lost. Three of them described Adams'

responsibility OF Eve's actions. Coincidence, collusion or something else?

Maybe they (con)fuse responsibility (for) with control or charge (of). Or

(this is a joke!) they are taking advantage of the fact that English was

still loose about some issues in the mid 17C -- I was just discussing on

another list the mid-17C poet Marvell's use of uncessant rather than modern


Maybe not a joke, though -- OED2 has a separately numbered submeaning 1b for

"responsibility" as constructed with "of," citing Dickens in Old Cur. Shop

and Wilkie Collins in Black Robe. (Submeaning 1c, constructed with "for,"

gives a first cite from Shaw in Man & Superman....)

"Responsibility of": Survival or solecism? The lady or the tiger....

Now if they write "responsability" (aargh, and not given as an orthographoic

variant in OED), that's a hearse of a different color....

Greg Downing/NYU, at greg.downing[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE] or downingg[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE]