Date: Fri, 24 Oct 1997 10:37:42 EDT


Subject: Re: Your mail

Julia Cochran writes:

On Thu, 23 Oct 1997 19:13:17 EDT Michael Montgomery said:

By the way, Ron, "Bless you" is not a prayer, the distinctive features

of the latter being that it is phrased in second person (often with a

vocative) and addressed directly to a deity. "Bless you" does not have

these characteristics, so far as I can discern.

You're's subjunctive, with (ahem, the alleged) God in the third

person and "May" deleted but presumably, at one time, understood.

We can try the diagnostic thoughtfully provided by Quang Phuc Dong, in his

immortal article "English Sentences Without Overt Grammatical Subject", p. 6.

[_Studies Out in Left Field_: Defamatory Essays Presented to James D. McCawley

on the Occasion of his 33rd or 34th Birthday, Edmonton, 1971.] Quang cites the


Damn {God/*Himself}

Goddamn {God/*Himself}

to argue against the analysis in which God is the underlying subject of such

"verbs". By the same token, imagining oneself in Heaven in the presence of

the sneezing Lord. Does one say

(?)Bless Yourself.

or, more likely

Bless You.

If my intuitions are correct, God cannot be the subject of "bless", whether

the mood is subjunctive, imperative, or otherwise. It's clearly an empirical