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  1. #1
    Hucky is offline Member
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    Which of you can bear witness/testimony to the correct usage?

    Hi there again,

    I`ve looked up the following entries (in their noun senses) 1) witness, and 2) testimony in almost all monolingual dictionaries. Most of them give as the meaning a person with No. 1) (except for a few), and a thing with No. 2). In addition, there are also corresponding phrases: 1a) to bear witness to, and 2a) to bear testimony to. In 1a) witness has apparently also a thing meaning. So, do the two phrases mean the same?

    Language witnesses ahead and give testimony!

    Hucky

  2. #2
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    Re: Which of you can bear witness/testimony to the correct usage?

    You cannot bear testimony in my opinion. You give testimony.

    "Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour" = you must not give false evidence against your neighbour.

    The obsolete character of the context in my quotation is the tipoff: bear witness is archaic. You still run across it and it still means testify, but it is increasingly rare. I think it is dying out.

    I suppose the noun witness must have had the meaning evidence, but that meaning is surely obsolete outside the phrase bear witness. A witness in any other context is a person.
    Last edited by probus; 23-Mar-2011 at 23:09.

  3. #3
    Tdol is offline Editor, UsingEnglish.com
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    Re: Which of you can bear witness/testimony to the correct usage?

    'Bear testimony' exists, but it's not used commonly- you find it in religious contexts sometimes. Outside bear witness and possibly a few other phrases, the definition of witness as a person holds good.

  4. #4
    Hucky is offline Member
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    Re: Which of you can bear witness/testimony to the correct usage?

    Dear probus and Tdol,

    To my shame I have just noticed that I haven`t thanked you yet for your explanations. I was certainly going to do so at once, got somehow distracted, forgot about it thinking I had already done so, whilst probably taking the intention for the deed. So, here are my thanks, though belatedly, not in a less hearty manner.

    All the best!

    Hucky

  5. #5
    Hucky is offline Member
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    Re: Which of you can bear witness/testimony to the correct usage?

    Hiya,

    With respect to what probus and Tdol have written, I`d like to take up the thread by going on to ask whether it is correct to dub the statements like these:

    1) The historic sites and documents a) bear testimony / b) (not: bear witness) of local history.

    But what about this one?

    2) The historic sites and documents a) are testimonies / b) witnesses of the past.

    In other words, can a place or a document be a witness of something?

    And what about the verb construction?

    3) The historic sites and documents a) testify to / b) witness the past.

    Which of them is most suitable?

    Greetings

    Hucky

  6. #6
    Tdol is offline Editor, UsingEnglish.com
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    Re: Which of you can bear witness/testimony to the correct usage?

    Quote Originally Posted by Hucky View Post
    Dear probus and Tdol,

    To my shame I have just noticed that I haven`t thanked you yet for your explanations. I was certainly going to do so at once, got somehow distracted, forgot about it thinking I had already done so, whilst probably taking the intention for the deed. So, here are my thanks, though belatedly, not in a less hearty manner.

    All the best!

    Hucky
    You're welcome.

  7. #7
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    Re: Which of you can bear witness/testimony to the correct usage?

    Bear witness isn't all that archaic. (it's a shame about the misspelling in the video title)

  8. #8
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    Re: Which of you can bear witness/testimony to the correct usage?

    Quote Originally Posted by Mr_Ben View Post

  9. #9
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    Re: Which of you can bear witness/testimony to the correct usage?

    When it rains, it pours:

    "I keep having to remind myself that we're bearing witness," Andy told me recently, when we were discussing how the volume of material was affecting him personally. "Otherwise, I think I would've lost my mind."

    (from an article/blog/discussion about journalists who view shocking material every day as part of their job)

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