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A question about the wording in the U. S. constitution

 
 
ftw
 
Reply Sun 16 Aug, 2015 01:42 pm
Article 1 section 2 of the U. S. constitution states:

"No Person shall be a Representative who shall not have attained to the Age of twenty five Years, and been seven Years a Citizen of the United States, and who shall not, when elected, be an Inhabitant of that State in which he shall be chosen."

No one seems to be able redact this clause into modern parlance avoiding the ambiguity while retaining the original style and intent of its writers.

Someone did point out on another forum however that the first comma may have been unneccessary, but argued with me over the point whether or not there had still been a split infinitive. A split infinitve is something like "to boldly go" whereas "to go boldly" would be more appropriate. I reckon that split infinitives can also include infinitives in all the tenses including the perfect tense. "To be" is the infinitive of the verb "be" in the present indicative. However, most of you will also be aware of constructs such as "to have been"; this is the past perfect infinitive.

I argued that "who shall not have" covers in scope both "attained" in the first clause, and "been" in the second, thus being split by the entire remainder of the direct object of the first clause i.e. "the age of 25" (omiting here the posibility of considering it a prepositional phrase both on account of the redunancy of the preposition 'to' and in keeping in acordance with our goal of modernizing the language).

The obvious critique of my view, of course, is that "shall have been" doesn't clearly resemble "to have been", but I nontheless postulate the prudence of according it infinitive status in adhereing with the applicable rule that all modal verbs require the use of the infinitive.

It has been said that the prohibition of split infinitives is targeted mainly at adverbial phrases, so then, so far so good. But even considering it this way does not aleviate our misunderstanging of the exremely obfuscated text.
For not only does it contain a split past perfect infinitve modified by a modal, the final clause repeats the verb 'shall not', leaving us to wonder at what the heck is going on. If we have a compound predicate in the first 2 clauses why did the framers of the constitution switch to a dependent clause at the end? Or is it posible in a compound predicate construct to repeat the like verbs such as in "I like football and like fishing". (You may see my related question here: https://answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20150816104406AAuM4fJ ). And if it is necessary to repeat the like verbs in a compound predicate, why DIDN'T they repeat the like verb in the secound clause?

Lastly, I call attention to the prospect that the main clause is actually "No Person shall be a Representative" which I believe would require a comma. I posit the following as a candidate for an updated version with the caveat that the afforementioned grammatical anomalities be taken into consideration before providing your comments, for which I implore.

No person shall be a representative, who shall not have attained the age of 25 and been seven years a citizen of the United States and who shall not, when elected, be an inhabitant of that state in which he shall be chosen.
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