Date: Fri, 24 Oct 1997 10:37:42 EDT From: Larry Horn 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 contrasts 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 question. --Larry