You guys sure are beating a dead dog......at least as far as this thread
goes. If we go way back, before the "Founding Fathers", to the early
colonists.....they were required to keep arms and powder. They had to
bring their guns to church and to town meetings. They were also
required by law to keep provisions in their homes in order to feed
travellers. Also required to be members of the church in order to vote.
Some ornery characters in Connecticut, whom I am distantly related to,
didn't go for that. Seriously religious, church-goin' folks, some of
whom sentenced Quakers - male or female - to be lashed "twenty stripes"
on their bare backs whilst being pulled by a cart out of the
jurisdiction. But, they weren't as conservative as they sound...the law
generally was that a man had to leave at least one-third of his estate
to his wife, and there were always officials charged with caring for the
Not necessarily. Nominative absolute sentences are just as (un)common today
as they were in the latter part of the 18th century. Yes, I researched it,
around 20 years ago.
And the "because" is just one possible "in other words" for such a
nominative absolute. The accurate meaning of the others would produce an
awkward sentence -- which is why the nominative absolute is used from time
to time in literature. You will not see it used in legal documents today
because of the ambiguity.
I don't look this stuff up for fun, but if you doubt all this and want to
see some parallel examples, I'll dig out my grammar books. They have some
Hokay. As I said, the construction is uncommon but you'll recognize these
(From The American Heritage Book of English Usage, "Absolute Construction"):
"No other business arising, the meeting was adjourned."
"The paint now dry, we brought the furniture out on the deck."
"The truck finally loaded, they said goodbye to their neighbors and drove
"The horse loped across the yard, her foal trailing behind her."
"The picnic is scheduled for Saturday, weather permitting."
"Barring bad weather, we plan to go to the beach tomorrow."
"All things considered, it's not a bad idea."
Note that in some of these, the ones about the horse and her foal and the
one about the picnic, the absolute phrase is almost, but not quite,
incidental. The foal did not restrict the horse from loping across the yard,
so far as we can tell. The weather may decide if we have the picnic, but it
doesn't change the fact that the picnic is scheduled for Saturday.
We brought the furniture out on the deck at least partly because the paint
was dry. We would not have done so if it wasn't, probably, so the dryness of
the paint in this case is logically (but not grammatically) restrictive. The
good idea is logically, but not grammatically, connected to the idea that we
have considered all things. It still would have been a good idea if we had
not considered all things, in all likelihood, but the sentence is ambiguous
on this point.
Is it clearing up? The nominative absolute allows a variety of logical
connections between the phrase and the clause.
(Here's one I picked up online):
"High heels clattering on the pavement, the angry women marched toward the
The women were marching regardless of whether their heels were clattering.
I hope this is enough to satisfy what you're looking for. I should point out
that the nominative absolute is a slightly controversial issue to
grammarians, but it may appear that way because some don't like the fact
that it's derived from Latin, in which the parallel to the English
nominative absolute is the "ablative absolute," and it really works better
in Latin than in English.
In English, the construction has always been rare. Linguists say it started
when early literary writers tried to adopt Latin constructions. John Milton
used in heavily in _Paradise Lost_. But it has never, otherwise, been
Why the FFs used it is a good question. It's a literary device whose meaning
depends on context. But the 2nd has no context. My guess, after years of
studying it, is that it was an intentional ambiguity.
You probably noticed that Gunner made a point of the commas, which many
writers have done over the years. The commas would be an issue if the
grammatical question was whether the phrase is restrictive or not. But
that's not the issue. Absolute constructions -- the nominative absolute, in
this case -- have no grammatical relationship to the rest of their
sentences. They have various logical connections but "absolute" means they
are grammatically self-contained, or not connected. Once it's absolute,
there is no "restrictive" or "unrestrictive."
The point is that the commas don't matter. If the sentence of the 2nd
Amendment were written today, we would not use the first comma, but the
meaning would be identical to the original. The use of such "ear-based"
commas has declined but the meaning remains the same.
I have some definitions of nominative absolute that may help but I hope the
examples clear it up.
Nope. The first part of the amendment is a well regulated militia. It
is mentioned first, not as an add on, not as an afterthought, but as the
introductory clause of the piece. It sets out HOW and WHY it must not be
infringed. The context of when infringement takes place. It sets limits.
If you want to include the last part, you can't pretend that the first
On Sat, 15 Sep 2007 17:51:03 -0400, Ed Huntress wrote:
The way I read it is, "Since it is necessary that the militia be
well-regulated, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be
What this means that it is the duty of the well-armed citizenry to
keep the militia from turning itself into a police state. In other
words, it's the duty of the citizens to do the actual regulating.
For example, when the militia man shows up with his squad and
says, "We're going to confiscate all of your guns and burn all of
your subversive books", you can lock and load, aim, look him in
the eye, and say, "Guess again, bucko!"
Unfortunately, these days it seems that too many people are willing
to throw away their Liberty in exchange for the illusion of security.
I suppose that's as good an interpretation as any. One of the beauties of
the 2nd, and of many such sentences, is that you can read into it what you
want -- and it's clear that people do just that.
Taking into account what the FFs were trying to accomplish with the Bill of
Rights, I firmly believe that the 2nd was intended to be ambiguous, while,
at the same time, drawing attention to what was then the most uniformly
agreed upon argument in favor of a right to bear arms. After the
Revolutionary War, no state legislature would argue the point, and that was
the desired result.
But the history of the issue over the decades preceding the B of R suggests
that the most common argument (although not, possibly, the most forceful
one) was an individual right to self-defense. Why the FFs didn't seize on
that one, we can only guess. A key point is that there was no debate over
the right itself. It was a no-brainer at the time.
Oh, we don't doubt that, Geoff. From your first little sniveling drips of
snotty sarcasm, it's been obvious that's what you do. You're a little wimpy
at it but you're consistent.
All you had to do was ask nicely. I assure you that no one posted to you
intentionally, as no one wants to converse with a dull and snarling twat
like you. So go back to your gluepot and finish whatever you were
doing-it-yourself -- or do it to yourself, if you wish, and see if it helps
you relax a bit.
Im not particularly conversant with Cockney Rhyming Slang, but isnt
the term you twats use for the US..."septic" + tank rhymes with Yank?
So you stupid Turds (I did get the connection correct, did I not?)
are now going to get all pissy and upset about it?
Intelligent enough, of course. On the other hand, pissing off arrogant
sniveling little Turds is fun.
The DIY shall remain. In fact, I may subscribe to the group, just to
view how the semi intelligent manage to fumblefuck their way through
hanging wallpaper or whatever buffoonish tasks it is that your lot is
having difficulty with. Advanced bridge building using popsicle
I anticipate your Turdish response.
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