Till death us do part

Aquatar   Sun Jul 09, 2006 11:36 am GMT
'Till death us do part'

The grammar in this seems up the creek. Does anyone know where it originated from?
Jim   Mon Jul 10, 2006 2:00 am GMT
"... till death do us part." but, yeah, the grammar is up the creek: it would be "does".
Guest   Mon Jul 10, 2006 4:38 am GMT
It is subjunctive, so it should be "do", not "does". The grammar in this phrase is entirely correct, albeit old-fasioned...
Kirk   Mon Jul 10, 2006 5:21 am GMT
<<It is subjunctive, so it should be "do", not "does". The grammar in this phrase is entirely correct, albeit old-fasioned...>>

Yeah it's just the subjunctive. Nothing too weird. Even for people whose dialects have lost the subjunctive (mine and many other North American ones haven't completely lost it even in normal speech as has been discussed many a time on this forum before) there are set fossilized phrases and idioms English speakers still use such as "till death do us part" "so be it" "whether it be....or...." "as it were" "be that as it may" "(God) damn it!/dammit!" "the powers that be" "God save/long live the Queen/King" etc.
Aquatar   Mon Jul 10, 2006 11:47 am GMT
Oh yes, I didn't think about it being the subjunctive for some reason. But I was thinking about the word order as well. Is that also left over from earlier English? It seems more similar to German than to present-day English.
Guest   Mon Jul 10, 2006 5:42 pm GMT
No, the word order is prefectly normal. You just had the phrase wrong.
Aquatar   Mon Jul 10, 2006 6:11 pm GMT

What is the phrase then?
Tiffany   Mon Jul 10, 2006 6:54 pm GMT
The phrase being discussed is "Till death do us part" - your original post inverts "do us".
Aquatar   Mon Jul 10, 2006 7:03 pm GMT
I have seen it written both ways, and in fact there is an old BBC comedy entitled 'Till death us do part'.

But even 'Till death do us part' is not usual English word order. The object normally comes at the end of the sentence i.e. Till death do part us', in this day and age anyway.
Guest   Tue Jul 11, 2006 8:02 am GMT
But "do" is functioning like "make". The object cames between "make" and the verb the object is made to do in modern English. For example, "He makes me dance.", not "He makes dance me." In Modern English the phrase "till death do us part" would be "till death make (or makes) us part", wouldn't it?
greg   Tue Jul 11, 2006 10:55 am GMT
Je crois que c'est (1) <till death us do part> qui est — à l'origine — la formulation "exacte", même si (2) <till death do us part> se rencontre aussi.

L'expression (1) est en fait une altération de (3a) <till death us depart> ou (3b) <till death us departs>.

L'expression (2) est peut-être une remotivation de (1) ? Comme si ?<to do part> était ressenti (?) comme une locution verbale ?

Dans tous les cas, (1), (2), (3a) & (3b) dérivent de l'ancien français <depart> qu'on retrouve sous la forme moderne <départ> — dont le sémantisme actuel est multiple : {commencement, début}, {partir, quitter un lieu}, {séparation, distinction}. Voir les sens des mots Fr <département> & An <department>.

Je crois que ce passage a été écrit (ou inspiré) par Chaucer (c'est du moyen-anglais) :
« In vertue and holy almes-dede
They lyuen alle and neuere asonder wende
***Til deeth departeth hem*** this lyf they lede
And fareth now wel my tale is at an ende
Now Ihesu crist that of his myght may sende
Ioye after wo gouerne vs in his grace
And kepe vs alle that been in this place
Amen. »
lu   Tue Jul 11, 2006 1:16 pm GMT
shouldn't it be "till death do us apart"?
Saint   Tue Jul 11, 2006 2:03 pm GMT
This is not exactly a new expression, so it must be remembered that English grammar has changed just a little over the years.
greg   Tue Jul 11, 2006 5:17 pm GMT
L'expression la plus proche de l'ancien français (et donc du moyen-anglais) est (3) <till death us depart(s)>, lesquelles ont donné, par déformation, (1) <till death us do part>.

(2) <till death do us part> est une déformation de la déformation.

En conséquence, <(it) do> n'est pas un subjonctif, mais une remotivation de <de(part)> : <us depart> —> <us do part> —> <do us part>.

Du moins c'est une hypothèse que je formule.

MA <til deeth departeth hem> (le sens n'est pas le même que les phrases suivantes) vs An <till death us depart(s)> vs An <till death us do part> vs An <till death do us part>.
Jim   Wed Jul 12, 2006 3:32 am GMT
Ah, yes, subjunctive. Hadn't thought of that. Okay, it's fine then.