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  1. #11
    Phaedrus's Avatar
    Phaedrus is offline Senior Member
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    Re: So help you God

    Quote Originally Posted by Rover_KE View Post
    The prompter says 'So help you, God'.

    The President says 'So help me, God'.
    Great point. You can witness the interaction here.

    I believe that "So help me God" is a subjunctive clause in which "God" is not the addressee but, rather, the subject.

    So help me God. <--> God help me so.

    Interestingly, "So help me god" (without a comma) is also found at the end of the Oath of Allegiance taken by those seeking U.S. citizenship:

    "I hereby declare, on oath, that I absolutely and entirely renounce and abjure all allegiance and fidelity to any foreign prince, potentate, state, or sovereignty of whom or which I have heretofore been a subject or citizen; that I will support and defend the Constitution and laws of the United States of America against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I will bear arms on behalf of the United States when required by the law; that I will perform noncombatant service in the Armed Forces of the United States when required by the law; that I will perform work of national importance under civilian direction when required by the law; and that I take this obligation freely without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; so help me God."

  2. #12
    jutfrank's Avatar
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    Re: So help you God

    I didn't notice before that Mr Roberts delivers the line as a question!

    So help you God?

    Perhaps he's enquiring "Do you promise that God will help you?"

  3. #13
    Phaedrus's Avatar
    Phaedrus is offline Senior Member
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    Re: So help you God

    Quote Originally Posted by jutfrank View Post
    I didn't notice before that Mr Roberts delivers the line as a question!

    So help you God?
    It's essentially a parenthetical insertion that is part of the preceding clause. Compare: "I will, so help me God, shed light on this construction."

  4. #14
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    Re: So help you God

    Quote Originally Posted by Phaedrus View Post
    It's essentially a parenthetical insertion that is part of the preceding clause. Compare: "I will, so help me God, shed light on this construction."
    I don't follow. Please explain.

  5. #15
    Phaedrus's Avatar
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    Re: So help you God

    Quote Originally Posted by jutfrank View Post
    I don't follow. Please explain.
    "So help me God" is a subjunctive clause. "God" is not being addressed. "God" is the subject of the clause. A comma before "God" is wrong.

    "So" is fronted in the subjunctive clause. "So help me God" derives from "God help me so." "So" is anaphoric.

    "So help me God" always relates to another clause (with appropriate semantics).

    "So help me God" can come at the beginning, in the middle, or at the end of a clause.

    If you respond again with "I don't follow. Please explain.," rest assured that I will ask you to elaborate as to what it is you don't follow.

  6. #16
    GoesStation is online now Moderator
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    Re: So help you God

    Quote Originally Posted by Phaedrus View Post
    If you respond again with "I don't follow. Please explain.," rest assured that I will ask you to elaborate as to what it is you don't follow.
    If this is going to become an academic discussion of grammatical arcana, I'd like you and Jutfrank to start a new thread in the "General Language" forum, please.
    I am not a teacher.

  7. #17
    Phaedrus's Avatar
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    Re: So help you God

    Quote Originally Posted by GoesStation View Post
    If this is going to become an academic discussion of grammatical arcana, I'd like you and Jutfrank to start a new thread in the "General Language" forum, please.
    I just wanted to correct the comma in Rover's post, lest it confuse the OP or other onlookers. We can forget about how interesting the construction is.

  8. #18
    jutfrank's Avatar
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    Re: So help you God

    Quote Originally Posted by Phaedrus View Post
    If you respond again with "I don't follow. Please explain.," rest assured that I will ask you to elaborate as to what it is you don't follow.
    Sorry, Phaedrus, I think we got our wires crossed. My post #12 was meant only to point out the odd way that he delivers the line with rising intonation. I wasn't saying anything about grammar. I understand your grammatical explanation, and I find it very interesting. I thought your comment in post #13 was somehow related to mine, that's all.

    Quote Originally Posted by GoesStation View Post
    If this is going to become an academic discussion of grammatical arcana, I'd like you and Jutfrank to start a new thread in the "General Language" forum, please.
    I don't think that will be necessary. This was just a misunderstanding. (I should get some sleep.)

  9. #19
    Rover_KE is offline Moderator
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    Re: So help you God

    In that case ... thread closed.

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