Scope Restrictions vs. Magnitude Restrictions on Congress (don’t fear the broccoli tax!)

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4 Responses

  1. jimbino says:

    “it can’t outright forbid you from doing so”

    In proper English, one says “They forbid you to do so” or “They prohibit you from doing so.” Proper usage of prepositions separates the learned from the tyros in all Indo-European languages.

    You bid a person to do something; likewise, you forbid him to do it. Eugene Volokh and others who blog on never seem to get it right, but they got their English education by studying N-gram.


  2. Paul Gowder says:

    I can’t help but notice that the most disdainful and contemptuous comments on this blog, of the distinguished “clearly you are an idiot” genre, invariably have exactly zero argument or evidence for their bald assertions of whatever it is that their anonymous writers think the idiot in question is missing.

    Incidentally, your extraordinarily irritating burst of pedantic patronizing isn’t even correct. The convention to which you’re referring (and I do mean convention, as opposed to law, rule or command of some fantastical grammar deity) isn’t about using the preposition “to” rather than the preposition “from.” It’s that forbid in the active voice ordinarily takes an infinitive as indirect object (see OED). That is, in the conventional form, “to” does not function as a preposition.

  3. jimbino says:

    Paul Gowder:

    “From” is a preposition that can be used with “prohibit” but not with “forbid.” Get it?

    I wouldn’t waste so much time correcting bad English if it weren’t for the fact that:

    1. People judge you by the words you use. Analysis of a doctor’s or lawyer’s grammar is a better means of vetting him than consulting Angie’s List.
    2. Many foreigners are struggling to master English and we do them a disservice by not pointing out bad English usage, especially if they’re paying for ESL instruction.
    3. Machine translation will be frustrated and error-prone when trying to deal with bad grammar. Try translating common infelicities like: “As soon as the parents come in with the kid, give them the circumcision first thing.”
    4. The idiot descriptivists over at Language Log decide proper English grammar by googling, which forces me to object to and example of bad grammar in blogs for fear that N-gram will elevate it to the norm.

  4. Brett Bellmore says:

    “By outlawing something, Congress says that those who do it are subject to criticism from their neighbors; in a world where many of those neighbors think that it’s wrong to break the law, this can be an effective way of deploying social sanctions to back up the state’s commands.”

    The flip side of this is that, if Congress persists in outlawing things large segments of the public do NOT think wrong, it can be an effective way of reducing the number of people who think it’s wrong to break the law.