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Occupying Grammar

November 4th, 2011 · No Comments

Serve and protect are noble words, suggesting nurturance and safety. They make me think of a good Mommy, or perhaps an excellent babysitter. However, as a motto, these two verbs exist in a kind of linguistic vacuum: They are profoundly ambiguous. Are they infinitives or commands? Ideals or marching orders?

Further, both verbs are transitive. That is, when used in real life declarative sentences that have meaning, these verbs, like the prepositions of, by and for, take objects. But the motto does not specify exactly what the objects of these verbs are.

Recent encounters between police and protestors of the various Occupations across the United States suggest that the police motto itself, unlike a direct declarative sentence, conveys a certain ambiguity about the role of law enforcement.

Increasingly, public debate is going to focus on just what these unnamed objects are. Animate or inanimate? What, or whom? It’s about time!

Tags: It's about time!

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