steepholm (steepholm) wrote,
steepholm
steepholm

To Blame, to Thank, and Others?

[I just posted this in the linguaphiles community, but it may interest some here.]

I've been trying to think of other contemporary English constructions that work like "to blame" in the sentence, "Who is to blame for this mess?" - where there is an implied passive (i.e. "who is to be blamed?").

So far, I can't think of any good examples. The nearest I've got is "to thank", albeit it sounds a little archaic: "Who is to thank for this mess?"

Interestingly, while this sounds semi-acceptable where "thank" acts as an ironic synonym for "blame", as in the above example, to my ear it sounds less so when used unironically: "Who is to thank for the lovely bouquet I found on my desk this morning?" This leads me to wonder whether its semi-acceptability in the negative example derives from a kind of semantic resonance with "to blame".

Anyway, I'd be interested in further examples or thoughts on this in general.
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  • Child Catchers and Babby Hunters

    Not long ago I discovered to my surprise that the dialect phrase, "More X than ever the parson preached about," meaning "a lot of X," was unknown to…

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    I've exchanged contracts on a new house, and will (COVID-19 willing) be moving in on Monday! This is very pleasing after such a long delay - my offer…

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