give up somebody = handing somebody over?

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Mezanie

Senior Member
Hungarian
Hello everyone! :)

This is from a video, in which a lady (as per usual in my posts lately: an indigenous lady but with good English in my opinion) talks about the residential schools that were set up in the first half of the 20th century in Canada. The purpose of these schools was to assimilate indigenous children. Indigenous parents had to let their children be taken away. And the lady says this: "If you didn't give up your child they threatened you with going to jail."

When we give someone up it means we let the authorities take them away (because the person in question is a criminal).
However, that is not the case here.
I think we can still say that authorities were involved since it was the government that wanted these children to attend the residential schools.

So my question is: could "give up somebody" mean here "to hand somebody over"? As in: they had to hand over their children to the people who came to "collect them" and bring them to the residential schools.

Thank you for any replies in advance! :)
 
  • much_rice

    Senior Member
    English - American
    You've understood it well. "Give up your child" almost sounds as if the child is being taken away by force, and the indigenous woman is summoning up the same connotations. She could have said, "If you didn't consent to government schooling for your child, they would..." But she wants us to think of the government as being more coercive. "If you didn't hand your child over..." has a similar connotation, as you've inferred.
     

    lingobingo

    Senior Member
    English - England
    When we give someone up it means we let the authorities take them away (because the person in question is a criminal).
    I think this use is more or less restricted to the reflexive form: give oneself up [to the police].

    But we do indeed use “give up” to mean “hand over” another person — notably in the context of giving a child up for adoption.
     
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