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  1. #1
    Rockus is offline Newbie
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    grammar: government ...

    There is a phrase: government of the people, g. by the people, g. for the people.
    I believe, g. for the people means, g. is intended for the people.
    But what about other 2 claims?
    Is it so:
    government of the people = g. consists of people? (Not of a dictator; state is a democracy, it is not f.i. an oligarchy.)
    And:
    government by the people = people perform, execute government? (I.e., representatives of all population perform ruling? - Not only the educated, the rich, ... - but all citizens?)
    Still, of the people and by the people, in this context, do not differ much?- However, grammatically they do differ: "of" refers to properties (of a subject), and "by" has an instrumental function?
    Thanks!

  2. #2
    risby is offline Junior Member
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    Re: grammar: government ...

    How about changing "people" to "the whole population" and it might be clearer.

    It's government of the whole population (no-one is left out or escapes governance) for (the benefit of) the whole population by the whole population (or, in our case, representatives of the whole population).

  3. #3
    Rockus is offline Newbie
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    Re: grammar: government ...

    Even if I did not mind compensating people for population, my questions stay.
    But I understand you agree with my explanations?

  4. #4
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    Re: grammar: government ...

    Quote Originally Posted by Peter M. View Post
    There is a phrase: government of the people, g. by the people, g. for the people.
    I believe, g. for the people means, g. is intended for the people.
    But what about other 2 claims?
    Is it so:
    government of the people = g. consists of people? (Not of a dictator; state is a democracy, it is not f.i. an oligarchy.)
    And:
    government by the people = people perform, execute government? (I.e., representatives of all population perform ruling? - Not only the educated, the rich, ... - but all citizens?)
    Still, of the people and by the people, in this context, do not differ much?- However, grammatically they do differ: "of" refers to properties (of a subject), and "by" has an instrumental function?
    Thanks!
    It's from Lincoln's Gettysburg Address, we should point out, to give it its proper context.

    The phrase is deliberately rhetorical, in the traditional 3-phrase oratorical style; and you have to treat it that way, rather than literally. Like all 3-phrase sentences, the first part ('of the people') is the key phrase.

    1) 'Government OF the people': It does not mean a 'government of the people' (as opposed to, for example, a 'government of a dictator'), as your explanation implies. It means 'THE government (of the people)', as in 'THE rule (of law)'.

    2) 'Government BY the people': The government (of the people) is done BY the people (themselves), rather than BY a dictator.

    3) 'Government FOR the people': The government (of the people, again) is done ON BEHALF OF the people.

    Altogether, the sentence means the US government is (or maybe should be) a government that governs the people, is represented by those people, and exists for those people.

  5. #5
    Rockus is offline Newbie
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    Re: grammar: government ...

    Quote Originally Posted by Coffa View Post
    It's from Lincoln's Gettysburg Address, we should point out, to give it its proper context.
    The phrase is deliberately rhetorical, in the traditional 3-phrase oratorical style; and you have to treat it that way, rather than literally. Like all 3-phrase sentences, the first part ('of the people') is the key phrase.
    1) 'Government OF the people': It does not mean a 'government of the people' (as opposed to, for example, a 'government of a dictator'), as your explanation implies. It means 'THE government (of the people)', as in 'THE rule (of law)'.
    2) 'Government BY the people': The government (of the people) is done BY the people (themselves), rather than BY a dictator.
    3) 'Government FOR the people': The government (of the people, again) is done ON BEHALF OF the people.
    Altogether, the sentence means the US government is (or maybe should be) a government that governs the people, is represented by those people, and exists for those people.
    Thank you very much for a comprehensive reply!
    But, may I comment on point 1 ('Government OF the people'):
    Why is the stress not on PEOPLE?
    For we have f.i. a court of law, a court of equity - meaning a criterium for deciding is law or equity respectively.

  6. #6
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    BobK is offline Harmless drudge
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    Re: grammar: government ...

    As Coffa said, this is a rhetorical device (I've heard it called 'the rule of three'). You're right that the stress would normally go on the second noun, but to emphasize the 'threeness' (the same phrase, with just the preposition changed) the stress goes on the preposition. It's interesting that even in contexts where two of the three are missing, the strength of the quotation (among the right readers) is such that the abnormal stress remains: "We're talking about democracy here - 'government by the people etc'"

    b

  7. #7
    Rockus is offline Newbie
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    Re: grammar: government ...

    26.9.06
    Thanks again for all the answers, I appreciate them very much!
    I would however still like to add some words:
    a) government for the people, can be clear enough: it is a government for the benefit of all the governed
    b) but: government of the people, and government by the people can mean materially the same, only different aspects are emphasised: OF goes with "consisting", sc. government consisting of people, and BY goes with "executing", sc. government executing powers by people themselves
    And because 'people' apear in both cases, the difference is blurred up
    c) further, BY can also be eliminated as non ambiguous: government is performed by all the people, not only by the rich, educated, nobility
    d) yet, OF the people, is delicate;
    government OF the people can mean that government governs the people (we are talking of humans - we are not talking of animals /where a lion would dictate as a king of animals/);
    e) but we can also say that in the 'threeness' (the rule of three; the same phrase, just the preposition changed; the traditional 3-phrase oratorical style) the stress goes on the preposition
    f) so, as for a conclusion:
    FOR the people: government is for the all's benefit
    BY the people: government is performed by people themselves (not only by a certain group of a society)
    OF however can denote constituents, but also a 'kind' (at the latter: government governs people, not f.i. animals)
    g) so, interpreting OF we have two possibilities to choose from and it depends on our intent which one we want to select.

    Thanks for possible comments (I am arguing for sometimes I find a detail where I linger; as for the Address: I know it is famous, but I wonder whether Mr. Lincoln wanted to be only rhetorical.)

    Peter.

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