09 February 2017

On Pronoun Reference

I’m big on pronouns. I tell students that pronouns replace nouns and therefore, when they use a pronoun they must be certain that there is a noun which precedes it¾and if there are two nouns that precede the pronoun they must be certain to ensure that the reader knows to which noun the pronoun refers. I also advise students that the pronoun must agree in number and gender with the noun which precedes it.
     The decision by the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit in San Francisco delivered this evening declared that “It is beyond question that the federal judiciary retains the authority to adjudicate constitutional challenges to executive action.” The President, the Court said, has the power to judge whether executive actions are constitutionally acceptable. This ability of the judicial branch is central to the division of powers established by the Constitution of the United States. We are not to be governed by a monarch or dictator no matter how benevolent that monarch or dictator thinks itself to be!  We have a Constitution.
     Soon after the court ruled, Trump tweeted (imagine, a President of the United States ruling by tweets?) “See you in Court.” And I am wondering to whom does the President of the United States refer when he says “See you in court.” Does the pronoun ‘you’ refer to the United States Court of Appeals in San Francisco? In which case Trump threatens to see the Court in Court. Or is this ‘you’ referring to the people of the United States? Someone should teach Trump grammar.
     Trump’s behavior is more than reprehensible: it is unconstitutional and borders on the criminal.


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