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  1. #1
    GoodTaste is offline Key Member
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    So help you God

    USAToday's video shows Biden's presidential oath ending with "So help you God."

    Usually we know it is "So help me God" which invokes the devine Providence to help the president himself. So I wonder whether "So help you God" means something different.

    ========================
    "I do solemnly swear that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States. So help you God."

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    Source: USAToday Biden's inauguration day ends with a wave and a massive firework show

  2. #2
    Rover_KE is online now Moderator
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    Re: So help you God

    The prompter says 'So help you, God'.

    The President says 'So help me, God'.

  3. #3
    GoesStation is offline Moderator
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    Re: So help you God

    Note that the presidential oath of office was written into the US Constitution in 1787. The text reads

    I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my Ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.

    Capitalization and punctuation rules were different then.

    In 2008, Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts muffed his recital of it. As I recall, President Obama said it correctly instead of repeating Roberts' words. Just to make sure there could be no doubt the new President had been lawfully sworn in, they repeated the oath-taking later in the Oval Office of the White House.
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  4. #4
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    jutfrank is offline VIP Member
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    Re: So help you God

    Is the prompter really meant to say So help you God? He doesn't have a problem with saying the first person pronoun I, so I can't really see why he can't say me too.

    It feels and sounds a little like a misspeak to me. Is that possible?

  5. #5
    GoesStation is offline Moderator
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    Re: So help you God

    Quote Originally Posted by jutfrank View Post
    Is the prompter really meant to say So help you God? He doesn't have a problem with saying the first person pronoun I, so I can't really see why he can't say me too.

    It feels and sounds a little like a misspeak to me. Is that possible?
    He should have said "me". Roberts isn't great at this.

    He may have been thinking of the way American court bailiffs prompt witnesses: Do you swear to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, so help you God?
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  6. #6
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    Re: So help you God

    Quote Originally Posted by GoesStation View Post
    He may have been thinking of the way American court bailiffs prompt witnesses: Do you swear to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, so help you God?
    Yes, great point. I suspect that's it.

  7. #7
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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."

  8. #8
    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?"

  9. #9
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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."

  10. #10
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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.

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