Date: Fri, 24 Oct 1997 11:50:24 -0400

From: Ron Butters RonButters[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE]AOL.COM

Subject: Re: Your mail

Larry writes:

Quang cites the contrasts

Damn {God/*Himself}

Goddamn {God/*Himself}

to argue against the analysis in which

God is the underlying subject of such


I have never undestood this argument. It seems to me that "Damn!" is a

shortening of "Damn it!" which in turn has the "underlying" structure "May

God Damn it!" Who else would do the damning but God? How can anything other

than God be the LOGICAL subject of "damn" (or "bless")? The fact that "*God

damn himself!" is unacceptable to most people is irrelevant, since "May God

damn himself!" is acceptable--the constraint is on the "deletion" of "May"

before the reflexive.

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" . . .

It's clearly an empirical question.

Since this has never happened to me (or to anyone else who is signed up for

ads-l) I'm not sure that it is relevant. I'm even less sure how this thought

experiment is an "empirical" question. Nevertheless, I don't see why you

couldn't say either one: "God bless you!" or maybe "Bless yourself, God."

(The use of reflexives as a test for "subjecthood" is a bit murky, anyway,

e.g., one can say either, "I aimed the gun at myself" or "I aimed the gun at