at birth

VicNicSor

Banned
Russian
It’s the sort of school you have to put them down for at birth.
Macmillan dictionary

Silly question, but... at your birth, or at their birth? I'm sure it's the latter.
Thanks.
 
  • VicNicSor

    Banned
    Russian
    "At birth" cannot mean "at your birth" here, but the reasons are probably more logical than grammatical.
    Here, yes. I meant pure grammar:
    It’s the sort of school you have to put them down for at birth. Turn it into:
    It’s the sort of school they have to be put down for by you at birth. Now, "at birth" refers to "they" grammatically (not "logically" only), am I right?
     

    Loob

    Senior Member
    English UK
    I suppose so, Vik. But in practice, almost regardless of the sequence of the words, you supply the 'missing possessive' based on logic, not grammar;).
     

    velisarius

    Senior Member
    British English (Sussex)
    It’s the sort of school they have to be put down for by you at birth. Now, "at birth" refers to "they"

    That sentence isn't grammatical Vik. It's the sort of school for which they have to be put down...?
    It would be unusual to use this expression in the passive, I think. It looks as though the kids have to be euthanised ("put down").:eek:
     

    VicNicSor

    Banned
    Russian
    It’s the sort of school they have to be put down for by you at birth. Now, "at birth" refers to "they"

    That sentence isn't grammatical Vik. It's the sort of school for which they have to be put down...?
    It would be unusual to use this expression in the passive, I think. It looks as though the kids have to be euthanised ("put down").:eek:
    Do you mean putting the preposition "for" at the end of the phrase makes sense in the active voice only?
     

    JulianStuart

    Senior Member
    English (UK then US)
    Here, yes. I meant pure grammar:
    It’s the sort of school you have to put them down for at birth. Turn it into:
    It’s the sort of school they have to be put down for by you at birth. Now, "at birth" refers to "they" grammatically (not "logically" only), am I right?
    This is the sort of word order re-arrangement up with which I will not put:D (Apologies to WC)
    The reordering doesn't mean that "at birth" has to refer to "them" grammatically. The only way to do that would be "at their birth", but we already knew that from the logic.
     

    velisarius

    Senior Member
    British English (Sussex)
    You "put your child's name down for" a school. I find it very awkward to say "that's the school that little Johnnie has been put down for" - it sounds to me as though the child has been put down like a sick old dog. (Maybe you need a new thread if you want to discuss this thoroughly.)
     

    Myridon

    Senior Member
    English - US
    Do you mean putting the preposition "for" at the end of the phrase makes sense in the active voice only?
    No. Your sentence sounds a bit lit this one:
    It's the sort of birth defect they have to be put down for at birth.
    If puppies have this birth defect, they should be euthanized.
     

    VicNicSor

    Banned
    Russian
    the sort of birth defect
    Maybe the word order suggests that put down here means euthanise, but you'd never take the kind of school as the kind of birth defect:eek:, am I wrong?
    This is the sort of word order re-arrangement up with which I will not put:D (Apologies to WC)
    Who is WC?:oops:
    "that's the school that little Johnnie has been put down for" - it sounds to me as though the child has been put down like a sick old dog.
    I really don't understand why "for school" doesn't make all the difference and doesn't prevent from such a reading:(.
     

    JulianStuart

    Senior Member
    English (UK then US)
    Who is WC?:oops:
    Winston Churchill.
    He supposedly said, in reference to the "rule" against ending a sentence with a proposition: "That is the sort of arrant pedantry up with which I will not put." (=That is the sort of arrant pedantry which I will not put up with ).


    It turns out he didn't actually create it, according to this Winston Churchill site:
    The Yale Book of Quotations quotes The Wall Street Journal of 30 September 1942 which in turn quoted an undated article in The Strand Magazine: "When a memorandum passed round a certain Government department, one young pedant scribbled a postscript drawing attention to the fact that the sentence ended with a preposition, which caused the original writer to circulate another memorandum complaining that the anonymous postscript was 'offensive impertinence, up with which I will not put.'" Verdict: An invented phrase put in Churchill’s mouth.
    The relevance is the similarity to this sentence we are discussing: This is the sort of school down for which one needs to put one's son at birth.:D
     

    Loob

    Senior Member
    English UK
    Mmm, I'm not as sure as veli and Julian that your rewrite is impossible, Vik. It's awkward, but passives are often awkward when you state the agent.

    That's the school they were put down for doesn't sound much more grisly to me than We put them down for that school.:cool::D
     
    Last edited:

    velisarius

    Senior Member
    British English (Sussex)
    The sentence that I thought ungrammatical was:
    It’s the sort of school they have to be put down for by you at birth
     

    Loob

    Senior Member
    English UK
    The sentence that I thought ungrammatical was:
    It’s the sort of school they have to be put down for by you at birth
    Yes, that's the one I was commenting on:). I think it's awkward, in the way that passives are often awkward when you state the agent. But I don't think it's ungrammatical.

    I would have no difficulty with it if the agent was omitted: It’s the sort of school they have to be put down for at birth.
     

    velisarius

    Senior Member
    British English (Sussex)
    It's the sort of school you have to be put down for - it's the sort of school that requires you to be the subject of a mercy killing before you can go to it.:D King Herod would have loved that.
     

    JulianStuart

    Senior Member
    English (UK then US)
    It's the sort of school you have to be put down for - it's the sort of school that requires you to be the subject of a mercy killing before you can go to it.:D King Herod would have loved that.
    But it is grammatically correct - I think that was Loob's point. It's just unfortunate that "putting someone down" can have such different intepretations:(
     

    Loob

    Senior Member
    English UK
    Thanks Julian - that's exactly what I was trying to say. :thumbsup:

    (I blame my incoherence on my school.)
     
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