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The Periodic Table of the Middle Class
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    « New Olympic sport #435: supermarket slalom | Main | Maslow's hierarchy of sparkling water »

    Whose fault is it anyway? 

    So, have you noticed that nobody’s accountable for anything anymore? When the media reports resignations of leaders, for example, they are said to be stepping down ‘over’ something. Or news might come of someone being sacked ‘amid concerns’ about something else. Clever. If someone loses their position ‘because of’ or ‘for’ something, it was definitely their fault; something they did was the specific reason for the stepping down or the sacking. Resigning or being sacked ‘over’ or ‘amid’ an issue leaves it ambiguous – perhaps lots of people were at fault but one person was forced to walk the plank as a political gesture. The impression is that there’s a general mess, out of which steps one person as an example to us all.

    Who’s driving this? I’m not sure, but it’s pervasive. It’s the same malady that causes politicians to say that ‘questions need to be asked’ and ‘lessons need to be learnt’, passive expressions that mean nobody’s actually responsible for the questions or the lessons. But, remember, kids, where there’s an object, there’s a subject.

    Reader Comments (8)

    Where there's an object there is a subject?

    Demonstrably wrong.

    "Don't talk nonsense!" Object - no subject.


    September 22, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterPedant

    ... and the MC angle of this entry is....?

    September 22, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterLevantinelass

    Actually, with imperative expressions such as "Don't talk nonsense", the subject is implied and contained by the verb. The subject is "you".

    September 24, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMiss York

    Yes, the subject is merely implied, which again emphasises that is not there.

    September 24, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterPedant

    I love the attention to language in this post - brilliant observation.

    September 24, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterLouise

    i'm not sure about whether an implied subject is the same as an actual subject. But i do remember being taught in latin lessons to first find the verb then the subject then the object (or something like that) and that last sentence sounds like something my latin teacher would have said to me. Which was perhaps, sort of the reference?

    September 24, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterhector

    The pedantry here is the sort of thing that gets grammar a bad name. Given that the sentence in question began "Remember kids…", there it surely has a levity that would encompass implied subjects as well as those actually present? Pax!

    September 25, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterCountry Guy


    I love it when you get serious, big boy. My knickers are damp.

    But you don't get irony, do you?

    September 25, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterPedant

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