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Subject: On English Usage (For make no mistake)
Question: This question is about part of Obama's Nobel Prize Acceptance
speech in 2009. There are two divided views on the
interpretation of: ''For make no mistake'' in the speech:

"But as a head of state sworn to protect and defend my nation, I
cannot be guided by their examples alone. I face the world as it
is, and cannot stand idle in the face of threats to the American
people. For make no mistake: evil does exist in the world. A non-
violent movement could not have halted Hitler's armies."

(1) One interpretation is ''for make no mistake'' forms a phrase
for the emphasis of the gravity of his statement, ''for'' being a
preposition, if asked of its part of speech.
(2) The other interpretation is ''for'' is a conjunction which is
semantically similar to ''because'' and ''make no mistake'' is an
insertion

Most translations of Japanese newspapers interpret it as (1) but
only one newspaper as (2). My preference goes for (1), but as a
non-native speaker, I am not certain. I need native English
speakers help.

Thank you for your help in advance from an English teacher in
Japan.

Reply: It's absolutely (2) for me. The conjunctive use of "for" is
typically literary or oratorical, with its meaning slightly
different than that of "because," which is often used as a
replacement in the spoken language. "For" introduces a clause that
provides a reason or a rationale for what has come before. In the
President's speech, it means most certainly that the reason the
President will not stand idle is that evil does exist. "Make no
mistake" is actually a parenthetical expression not attached to
"for" and used to show emphasis, with the emphatic nature further
highlighted by the use of the auxiliary "does" in a non-negative,
non-interrogative context.
Reply From: Marilyn N Silva      click here to access email
 
Date: 09-Jan-2014
 
Other Replies:
  1. Re: On English Usage (For make no mistake)    Elizabeth J Pyatt     (09-Jan-2014)
  2. Re: On English Usage (For make no mistake)    John M. Lawler     (09-Jan-2014)
  3. Re: On English Usage (For make no mistake)    Geoffrey Richard Sampson     (10-Jan-2014)
  4. Re: On English Usage (For make no mistake)    Anthea Fraser Gupta     (11-Jan-2014)

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