allow to be taxed

Tina Brown this morning on NPR’s Morning Edition, on Queen Elizabeth II:

“It was just a terrible year,” Brown says, “that ended with Windsor Castle going up in flames and her having to really decide for the first time that the royal family would allow to be taxed.

That’s intransitive allow, understood as a reflexive transitive (‘allow themselves to be taxed’). New to me, but not (as it turns out) very rare.

It’s crucial that no explicit object is provided for allow — neither in a gap-filler construction (things they allow ___ to be taxed) nor in a heavy object movement construction (they allowed to be taxed all goods imported into the country).

A few more examples with taxed:

‘The boycott on British goods, particularly tea, threatened the livelihood of many English merchants. More and more sympathy for America was confined to those narrow circles of forward looking people or to professional politicians in opposition’. The plain truth is that colonists did not allow to be taxed. (link)

we were not going to allow to be taxed (and heavely taxed too, just like Ireland and Scotland) without representation…of which we had none (neither did Ireland and Scotland). (link)

I have to admit that Paul really is the only small government candidate. How much longer will the American people allow to be taxed to death? (link)

And a couple with approached:

Then, you just call and walk up to [the horse] but, he only gets a treat every other time.  Then, a treat only a few times a week.  Soon, you will need no treats….just announce yourself and he will “allow” to be approached. (link)

Male gray brown and black tabby 8 year old cat with white chest and white feet. Likely will not allow to be approached. Does not like to be picked up. (link)

No doubt a number of other verbs (in the passive) are possible as well.

The construction seems to be available in a variety of dialects and styles. Other than that, I don’t know anything about it.


5 Responses to “allow to be taxed”

  1. Greg Lee Says:

    Is it different from want to be taxed, hate to be taxed?

    • arnold zwicky Says:

      Presumably, want and hate (and a few other verbs) are the models for allow in allow to be taxed. But allow to be taxed is strikingly unacceptable for me, which is why I noticed Brown’s use of it.

  2. arnold zwicky Says:

    From David Denison, who’s an authority on English verb-complement constructions, both synchronically and historically, in reply to a query from me about whether he’d seen this construction:

    No! Wow. Off-the-scale ungrammatical for me: I would expect to hear sth like that from a French or Italian student with not-brilliant proficiency. We live and learn.

  3. Rick Sprague Says:

    If the experts are unfamiliar with this, on what basis can you conclude that it’s a variant as opposed to a recurring slip of the tongue/pen? I’m not being disingenuous, I really don’t see the justification here. Or perhaps I misunderstood and you’re only considering it a possibility at this time.

    Also, I note these examples all involve passive infinitive constructions. Is that a condition, or are “allow to tax”, “allow to approach”, and “allow to pick up” also possible?

    • Greg Lee Says:

      I think there is not a lot of agreement about the general issue of whether it is possible in principle to distinguish grammatical errors from dialect or stylistic variation, but even for those who think it is possible, why would anyone bother?

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: