Are senators congressmen?

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Fred Galvin

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Feb 22, 2003, 7:53:15 PM2/22/03
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My dictionaries tell me that the word 'congressman' can be used to
mean 'member of (either branch of) the U.S. Congress'. How common is
that usage? Is it rare or obsolete?

--
It takes steel balls to play pinball.

Don Phillipson

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Feb 22, 2003, 8:52:25 PM2/22/03
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"Fred Galvin" <gal...@math.ukans.edu> wrote in message
news:0302221850350...@gandalf.math.ukans.edu...

> My dictionaries tell me that the word 'congressman' can be used to
> mean 'member of (either branch of) the U.S. Congress'. How common is
> that usage? Is it rare or obsolete?

Any US newspaper style book would probably be
a better guide than a general-purpose dictionary.
Your dictionaries are technically right, but US
received practice is that:
Members of the Senate are called Senator Jones etc.
Members of the House of Representatives are called
Congressman Jones, etc.,
although the Constitution defines Congress as
being composed of these two bodies.

--
Don Phillipson
Carlsbad Springs (Ottawa, Canada)
dphil...@trytel.com.com.com.less2


Aaron J. Dinkin

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Feb 22, 2003, 9:38:46 PM2/22/03
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On Sat, 22 Feb 2003 20:52:25 -0500, Don Phillipson <dphil...@trytel.com> wrote:

> Your dictionaries are technically right, but US
> received practice is that:
> Members of the Senate are called Senator Jones etc.
> Members of the House of Representatives are called
> Congressman Jones, etc.,
> although the Constitution defines Congress as
> being composed of these two bodies.

...Although a member of a House of Representatives that isn't the one in
Congress (a state legislator, that is) would be called Representative
Jones, yes?

-Aaron J. Dinkin
Dr. Whom

Robert Lieblich

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Feb 22, 2003, 10:04:56 PM2/22/03
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Don Phillipson wrote:
>
> "Fred Galvin" <gal...@math.ukans.edu> wrote in message
> news:0302221850350...@gandalf.math.ukans.edu...
>
> > My dictionaries tell me that the word 'congressman' can be used to
> > mean 'member of (either branch of) the U.S. Congress'. How common is
> > that usage? Is it rare or obsolete?
>
> Any US newspaper style book would probably be
> a better guide than a general-purpose dictionary.
> Your dictionaries are technically right, but US
> received practice is that:
> Members of the Senate are called Senator Jones etc.
> Members of the House of Representatives are called
> Congressman Jones, etc.,
> although the Constitution defines Congress as
> being composed of these two bodies.

Just to be absolutely clear, no one with a sound understanding of
American English usage could hear "Congressman Jones" and think for
a moment that Jones is a Senator.

--
Bob Lieblich
Neither a Senator nor a Congressman be

amaass

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Feb 22, 2003, 10:38:28 PM2/22/03
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"Robert Lieblich" wrote:
>
> Just to be absolutely clear, no one with a sound understanding of
> American English usage could hear "Congressman Jones" and think for
> a moment that Jones is a Senator.
>

Nevertheless, Senator Jones is a congressman. Or congressperson.


California's state legislature is bicameral, composed of the (upper house)
Senate and (lower house) Assembly. Using "representative" to refer to
members of the state Assembly is wrong. They are assemblymen, or
assemblywomen, or assemblypersons.


-- Adam Maass
in San Francisco, California


Robert Lieblich

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Feb 22, 2003, 11:08:01 PM2/22/03
to
amaass wrote:
>
> "Robert Lieblich" wrote:
> >
> > Just to be absolutely clear, no one with a sound understanding of
> > American English usage could hear "Congressman Jones" and think for
> > a moment that Jones is a Senator.
> >
> Nevertheless, Senator Jones is a congressman. Or congressperson.

If that's what you want to think, you go right ahead. But if you
walked up to Barbara Boxer and said "Hello, Congressperson Boxer,"
she'd probably wonder what's wrong with you. There is no really
good term for Senators and Congresspersons combined -- "elected
representatives," despite its use of a term from the name of the
lower house, is probably the best of a poor lot.


>
> California's state legislature is bicameral, composed of the (upper house)
> Senate and (lower house) Assembly. Using "representative" to refer to
> members of the state Assembly is wrong. They are assemblymen, or
> assemblywomen, or assemblypersons.

True. Different usages for different legislatures. I think
Nebraska is still the only unicameral state legislature. The
legislature with the most elected officials (both houses combined)
is New Hampshire, where you get the feeling that every zip code has
at least one representative.

But "Congressperson Boxer" is still near-taboo.

--
Bob Lieblich

Aaron J. Dinkin

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Feb 22, 2003, 11:29:04 PM2/22/03
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On Sat, 22 Feb 2003 23:08:01 -0500, Robert Lieblich <Robert....@Verizon.net> wrote:

> But if you walked up to Barbara Boxer and said "Hello, Congressperson
> Boxer," she'd probably wonder what's wrong with you. There is no really
> good term for Senators and Congresspersons combined -- "elected
> representatives," despite its use of a term from the name of the
> lower house, is probably the best of a poor lot.

What about "member of Congress"? An elected representative could be anyone
in a city council or state legislature.

Robert Lieblich

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Feb 22, 2003, 11:37:39 PM2/22/03
to

I was depending on context. "Elected representatives in Congress"
would work if you needed more. I think of "member of Congress" as I
do "Congressperson" -- lower house only.

YMMV.

--
Bob Lieblich
Vote for me

R J Valentine

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Feb 23, 2003, 12:15:31 AM2/23/03
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On Sat, 22 Feb 2003 23:08:01 -0500 Robert Lieblich <Robert....@verizon.net> wrote:
...

} There is no really
} good term for Senators and Congresspersons combined -- "elected
} representatives," despite its use of a term from the name of the
} lower house, is probably the best of a poor lot.
...

You'd think the legislators would do something about that. There's no
good reason for them go without a way to refer to them collectively.

--
R. J. Valentine <mailto:r...@smart.net>

sand

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Feb 23, 2003, 1:44:15 AM2/23/03
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On Sun, 23 Feb 2003 05:15:31 -0000, R J Valentine <r...@smart.net>
wrote:

There are words to refer to them collectively but they would not be
accepted in family publications.

Jan Sand

Charles Riggs

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Feb 23, 2003, 3:27:48 AM2/23/03
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On Sat, 22 Feb 2003 22:04:56 -0500, Robert Lieblich
<Robert....@Verizon.net> wrote:


>Just to be absolutely clear, no one with a sound understanding of
>American English usage could hear "Congressman Jones" and think for
>a moment that Jones is a Senator.

I dunno. What if I heard "Bob of alt.usage.english", mightn't I think
he is a New Yorker?
--
Charles Riggs
For email, take the air out of aircom and
replace it with eir

Gary Vellenzer

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Feb 23, 2003, 6:54:13 AM2/23/03
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In article <UmX5a.203009$iG3.23971@sccrnsc02>, ama...@attbi.com says...

>
> "Robert Lieblich" wrote:
> >
> > Just to be absolutely clear, no one with a sound understanding of
> > American English usage could hear "Congressman Jones" and think for
> > a moment that Jones is a Senator.
> >
>
> Nevertheless, Senator Jones is a congressman. Or congressperson.
>
>
No he's not. He is a member of Congress, though.

Gary

rzed

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Feb 23, 2003, 8:34:56 AM2/23/03
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"Robert Lieblich" <Robert....@Verizon.net> wrote in message
news:3E584921...@Verizon.net...

> amaass wrote:
> >
> > "Robert Lieblich" wrote:
> > >
> > > Just to be absolutely clear, no one with a sound understanding of
> > > American English usage could hear "Congressman Jones" and think for
> > > a moment that Jones is a Senator.
> > >
> > Nevertheless, Senator Jones is a congressman. Or congressperson.
>
> If that's what you want to think, you go right ahead. But if you
> walked up to Barbara Boxer and said "Hello, Congressperson Boxer,"
> she'd probably wonder what's wrong with you. There is no really
> good term for Senators and Congresspersons combined -- "elected
> representatives," despite its use of a term from the name of the
> lower house, is probably the best of a poor lot.
> >
[...]

>
> But "Congressperson Boxer" is still near-taboo.
>

I can't imagine hearing "Congressperson Gephardt" either, though he, at
least, is in the House. In direct address, he would be "Representative
Gephardt," wouldn't he? Or, more likely still, "Mister Gephardt."

--
rzed

Robert Lieblich

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Feb 23, 2003, 9:35:08 AM2/23/03
to

"Mister" is okay. You can even use it addressing the president (as
long as we have only male presidents). But "Congressman Gephardt"
(or "Congresswoman <whoever>," as appropriate) is still the default
position. I used "Congressperson" as shorthand for the
alternatives, which was probably a mistake (although venial).

--
Private citizen

Per Rønne

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Feb 23, 2003, 10:12:02 AM2/23/03
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Robert Lieblich <Robert....@Verizon.net> wrote:

> There is no really good term for Senators and Congresspersons combined

»Parliamentarian«" is what my Danish-English dictionary suggests ?
--
Per Erik Rønne

Robert Lieblich

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Feb 23, 2003, 10:36:59 AM2/23/03
to

Nope. In fact, each house of Congress has an official called a
parliamentarian, whose job is to assist the chair in applying rules
of procedure:

<http://www.senate.gov/reference/glossary_term/parliamentarian.htm>
<http://gi.grolier.com/presidents/aae/side/houserep.html> (this one
will take a bit of searching)

This isn't anywhere near as big a gap as the lack of a good singular
epicene pronoun, and context usually solves the problem, but there
really isn't a good collective term for members of both houses of
Congress.

--
Bob Lieblich
I got "epicene pronoun" from Jesse Sheidlower -- blame him

Fred Galvin

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Feb 23, 2003, 1:28:11 PM2/23/03
to
On Sun, 23 Feb 2003, Robert Lieblich wrote:

> This isn't anywhere near as big a gap as the lack of a good singular
> epicene pronoun, and context usually solves the problem, but there
> really isn't a good collective term for members of both houses of
> Congress.

Lawmakers?

amaass

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Feb 23, 2003, 1:38:41 PM2/23/03
to

"Robert Lieblich" wrote:

} There is no really good term for Senators and Congresspersons combined

I disagree. Congressperson can be used for both Representatives and
Senators. But I would not use "Congressperson" as a title, but as as a
generic for both the House and the Senate.

"Congressperson Boxer" is wrong, because she is (more specifically) Senator
Boxer.
"Congressman Gephart" is commonly used, but is more correctly Representative
Gephart.

But I can say:

Senator Boxer is a congressperson.


Per Rønne wrote:

> »Parliamentarian«" is what my Danish-English dictionary suggests ?

"Parliamentarian" is wrong in the United States. The legislatures are not
parliaments.


-- Adam Maass


Oliver Cromm

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Feb 23, 2003, 2:22:45 PM2/23/03
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On Sun, 23 Feb 2003 12:28:11 -0600, Fred Galvin
<gal...@math.ukans.edu> wrote:

>On Sun, 23 Feb 2003, Robert Lieblich wrote:
>
>> This isn't anywhere near as big a gap as the lack of a good singular
>> epicene pronoun, and context usually solves the problem, but there
>> really isn't a good collective term for members of both houses of
>> Congress.
>
>Lawmakers?

I read this term recently and for a moment thought it was ridicule. I
wonder jow it is actually used.

In Germany likewise, their isn't a word that would cover members of
both federal houses, to the exclusion of other parliaments, so it
seems that there is no urgent need for this term.

Oliver

Simon R. Hughes

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Feb 23, 2003, 2:46:24 PM2/23/03
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Thus Spake Robert Lieblich:

> there
> really isn't a good collective term for members of both houses of
> Congress.

Has anyone thought of asking Rey for a couple of suggestions?
--
Simon R. Hughes
"I often think there should exist a special typographical
sign for a smile -- some sort of concave mark, a supine
round bracket" -- Vladimir Nabokov, _Strong Opinions_.

R Fontana

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Feb 23, 2003, 3:19:33 PM2/23/03
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On Sun, 23 Feb 2003, Oliver Cromm wrote:

> On Sun, 23 Feb 2003 12:28:11 -0600, Fred Galvin
> <gal...@math.ukans.edu> wrote:
>
> >On Sun, 23 Feb 2003, Robert Lieblich wrote:
> >
> >> This isn't anywhere near as big a gap as the lack of a good singular
> >> epicene pronoun, and context usually solves the problem, but there
> >> really isn't a good collective term for members of both houses of
> >> Congress.
> >
> >Lawmakers?
>
> I read this term recently and for a moment thought it was ridicule. I
> wonder jow it is actually used.

I think "lawmakers" is generally used by journalists only. It would
seem strange for someone to use it in ordinary speech or writing. It
doesn't imply ridicule at all. It's just a neutral synonym for
"legislator".

R Fontana

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Feb 23, 2003, 4:26:34 PM2/23/03
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There are two different problems here. One is, what's the general term
for a member of a governmental institution *like* the US Congress? In
American English the best answer is "legislator", I'd say. The second
is, what's the general term for a member of the US Congress? I can't
think of anything better than "member of Congress", and I'm not sure I
like that one since it's so close to "Congressman" which in
non-obsolete use can only mean a member of the lower house.

A problem with "parliamentarian" is that while you could call the US
Congress a sort of 'parliament', 'parliament' strongly implies (to me,
at least) the existence of a parliamentary system of government, such
as most of the Western European countries have, where the real
executive power is drawn from the legislative assembly rather than
being institutionally separate and equal (NTTAWWWTS).

Robert Lieblich

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Feb 23, 2003, 6:52:19 PM2/23/03
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amaass wrote:

[ ... ]

> "Congressperson Boxer" is wrong, because she is (more specifically) Senator
> Boxer.
> "Congressman Gephart" is commonly used, but is more correctly Representative
> Gephart.
>
> But I can say:
>
> Senator Boxer is a congressperson.

Well, of course you can. And any knowledgeable American speaker of
English will wonder what you are trying to convey. Forgive my
asking, but are you a knowledgeable American speaker of English? If
so, what has led you to think that you can call a Senator a
congressperson and have anyone understand what you are saying?

--
Bob Lieblich
Inquring mind

Mike Oliver

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Feb 23, 2003, 9:40:20 PM2/23/03
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Robert Lieblich wrote:

> amaass wrote:
>> But I can say:
>>
>> Senator Boxer is a congressperson.
>
> Well, of course you can. And any knowledgeable American speaker of
> English will wonder what you are trying to convey. Forgive my
> asking, but are you a knowledgeable American speaker of English? If
> so, what has led you to think that you can call a Senator a
> congressperson and have anyone understand what you are saying?

I agree guardedly with amaass. I'd put it this way: The collective
term "congressmen" (or the rather ugly "congresspersons") includes
senators. However if you describe an individual as a congressman,
it's almost certain that you mean he's in the House of Representatives,
except in the rather unlikely case that you know he's in one of the Houses
but you don't know which.

Neither "Congressman" nor "Congressperson" should be used as a title.

Robert Lieblich

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Feb 23, 2003, 10:25:17 PM2/23/03
to

i don't know what to say. Where I am (see below),
"Congressman/woman/person" means someone in the House -- period. It
does not mean or include "senator" -- ever. I live three miles or
so from where these people hang out (when they're not fund-raising),
and maybe out there in Podunk or Peoria there is someone who,
hearing the word "Congressmen" or the phrase "Members of Congress,"
allows for the possibility that some senators are meant, but that's
not what the words mean where the people described by those words
assemble.

Maybe this is another instance of "another thing coming" -- some
weird (to me) locution that's been hanging out in the corners of the
language beyond the limits of my perception. That I can live with,
shock to the system though it may be. If, however, it turns out
that this isn't a question of usage but one of logic -- because,
after all, senators are in Congress, too -- then I say bullshit.

> Neither "Congressman" nor "Congressperson" should be used as a title.

Sorry, both are, by the very people to whom the title applies. See
for yourself. Go to
<http://frwebgate.access.gpo.gov/cgi-bin/multidb.cgi>, the
Congressional Record site. Then run a search for "congressman" in
any time frame you like, have it bring up any portion of the
Congressional Record for the House of Representatives, and search
for the word "congressman" within that portion. (I can do so using
<ctrl-f>.) Look at how it's used. I selected
<http://frwebgate4.access.gpo.gov/cgi-bin/waisgate.cgi?WAISdocID=0564887192+0+0+0&WAISaction=retrieve>
(which I converted to <http://tinyurl.com/6atr>), and it's full of
"Congressman Johnson"s.

And here's a dare: Find anything in the Congressional record that
clearly uses "congressman" or "congressperson" to mean or include
senators.

Okay, senators and congressfolk are not the final word on English
usage. (Thank God.) But they use the labels for their positions the
way I use those words, and until I am shown something (other than
unsupported opinion) that indicates I am wrong, I'm going to keep
insisting that I'm right.

--
Bob Lieblich
I am, you know

Per Rønne

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Feb 23, 2003, 10:52:02 PM2/23/03
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Robert Lieblich <Robert....@Verizon.net> wrote:

> Nope. In fact, each house of Congress has an official called a
> parliamentarian

But in non-US English a »parlamentarian« seem to be the word used when
talking about /any/ single member of a Parliament.
--
Per Erik Rønne

Per Rønne

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Feb 23, 2003, 10:52:08 PM2/23/03
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amaass <ama...@attbi.com> wrote:

> "Parliamentarian" is wrong in the United States. The legislatures are not
> parliaments.

What, then, are they? Aren't legislatures per definition Parliaments?
--
Per Erik Rønne

Robert Lieblich

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Feb 23, 2003, 11:00:29 PM2/23/03
to

The United States does not have parliamentary government. Its
constitution divides the Government into three branches and
establishes a series of checks and balances among them. Among other
things, the head of government is not a member of the legislature --
cannot be, in fact -- nor are any of the cabinet members (equivalent
of ministers in a parliamentary system).

Asked if our Congress is a parliament, a knowledgeable American
would respond that it is a legislature and that we do not regard the
two terms as indistinguishable.

--
Bob Lieblich
How about that? -- a discussion of English usage

R J Valentine

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Feb 23, 2003, 11:20:30 PM2/23/03
to
On Sun, 23 Feb 2003 22:25:17 -0500 Robert Lieblich <Robert....@verizon.net> wrote:
...
} "Congressman/woman/person" means someone in the House -- period. It
} does not mean or include "senator" -- ever.
...

} and until I am shown something (other than
} unsupported opinion) that indicates I am wrong, I'm going to keep
} insisting that I'm right.
}
} --
} Bob Lieblich
} I am, you know

He is, you know. And it'd take more than showing him something (and that
more than supported opinion, which he's got herewith) to make him wrong on
this one.

Robert Lieblich

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Feb 23, 2003, 11:30:00 PM2/23/03
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Aw, RJ, I didn't know you cared.

They'll probably accuse us of having organized a Greater Laurel
cabal.

--
Bob Lieblich
Hmmm, not a bad idea

R J Valentine

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Feb 24, 2003, 12:00:17 AM2/24/03
to
On Sun, 23 Feb 2003 23:30:00 -0500 Robert Lieblich <Robert....@verizon.net> wrote:
...
} They'll probably accuse us of having organized a Greater Laurel
} cabal.

At least I'm outside the Beltway (both of them).

ObDrift: You may not be able to get across the Potomac in the morning, the
way the water is rising. I crossed the Shenandoah this afternoon, and
that's as high as I've seen it in a long time. The Susquehanna was up the
other day, too. I haven't checked Liberty, Prettyboy, or Loch Raven since
the rains, but they were still low the last I saw them.

amaass

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Feb 24, 2003, 12:12:54 AM2/24/03
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Thanks Mike for saying what I was trying to convey.

-- Adam Maass


amaass

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Feb 24, 2003, 12:48:31 AM2/24/03
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"Robert Lieblich" wrote:
> amaass wrote:
>
> > I can say:
> >
> > Senator Boxer is a congressperson.
>
> Well, of course you can. And any knowledgeable American speaker of
> English will wonder what you are trying to convey. Forgive my
> asking, but are you a knowledgeable American speaker of English? If
> so, what has led you to think that you can call a Senator a
> congressperson and have anyone understand what you are saying?
>
> --

I am a knowledgeable and native speaker of American English. Born outside of
Philadelphia, mostly raised in San Francisco. Never been inside the Beltway.
This is usage as I understand it. The term "congressman," when not used as a
title, includes senators.

I'll admit that the usage I have outlined is in a somewhat informal
register, but probably picked up from my high school civics class.

Now, I don't often have reason to worry about what to call my elected
representatives. I simply know that, should the need arise, I can call on my
local representative or either senator for my state. IE, I can call on my
congresspeople.


-- Adam Maass


Per Rønne

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Feb 24, 2003, 1:27:45 AM2/24/03
to
Robert Lieblich <Robert....@Verizon.net> wrote:

> Asked if our Congress is a parliament, a knowledgeable American
> would respond that it is a legislature and that we do not regard the
> two terms as indistinguishable.

Then, Americans are using the words »parliament« and »legislature« in
another way than do non-Americans.

The NEW OXFORD Dictionary
of ENGLISH

parliament noun (Parliament) (in the UK) the highest legislature,
consisting of the Sovereign, the House of Lords, and the House of
Commons: the Secretary of State will lay proposals before Parliament |
an Act of Parliament.n the members of this legislature for a particular
period, especially between one dissolution and the next: the act was
passed by the last parliament of the reign.
===========================================
n a similar legislature in other nations |
and states: the Russian parliament. |
===========================================

ORIGIN Middle English: from Old French parlement 'speaking', from the
verb parler.

The NEW OXFORD
Thesaurus of ENGLISH

parliament

noun
1 the Queen's speech to Parliament
the Houses of Parliament, Westminster, the House of Commons, the House
of Lords, the Commons, the Lords, the House, the Lower House, the Upper
House, the Mother of Parliaments; another place.

====================================
2 the Russian parliament |
legislature, legislative assembly, |
congress, senate, chamber, house, |
upper house, lower house, |
upper chamber, lower chamber, |
second chamber, convocation, |
diet, council, assembly, |
Chamber of Deputies. |
===========================================

See table at legislative."
"
--
Per Erik Rønne

Per Rønne

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Feb 24, 2003, 1:29:02 AM2/24/03
to
Robert Lieblich <Robert....@Verizon.net> wrote:

> Asked if our Congress is a parliament, a knowledgeable American
> would respond that it is a legislature and that we do not regard the
> two terms as indistinguishable.

Then, Americans are using the words »parliament« and »legislature« in

parliament

See table at legislative."
"
--
Per Erik Rønne

Mark Brader

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Feb 24, 2003, 1:29:12 AM2/24/03
to
Per Rønne:

> But in non-US English a »parlamentarian« seem to be the word used when
> talking about /any/ single member of a Parliament.

No, the word is "MP". Or at the provincial level in Canada, MPP, MLA,
or MNA in different provinces. I presume they have state parliaments
in Australia, but what they call their members I don't know.

Just like "Congress{man,woman,person}" in the US, what "MP" means *in
practice* is a member of the lower house of Parliament.

Oh, yes, "parliamentarian" exists, but it's not a commonly used term.
--
Mark Brader | Well, unfortunately, that is impossible, or very difficult, or
Toronto | highly inadvisable, or would require legislation--one of those.
m...@vex.net | -- Sir Humphrey ("Yes Minister", Lynn & Jay)

My text in this article is in the public domain.

Mark Brader

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Feb 24, 2003, 1:36:56 AM2/24/03
to
Bob Lieblich:

> > Asked if our Congress is a parliament, a knowledgeable American
> > would respond that it is a legislature and that we do not regard the
> > two terms as indistinguishable.

Per Rønne:

> Then, Americans are using the words »parliament« and »legislature« in
> another way than do non-Americans.

No.



> The NEW OXFORD Dictionary
> of ENGLISH
>
> parliament noun (Parliament) (in the UK) the highest legislature,

> consisting of ...


> ===========================================
> n a similar legislature in other nations |
> and states: the Russian parliament. |
> ===========================================

But the Congress *isn't* a similar legislature to the British Parliament,
for the reasons already explained in the thread.
--
Mark Brader | "He's suffering from Politicians' Logic."
Toronto | "Something must be done, this is something, therefore
m...@vex.net | we must do it." -- Lynn & Jay: YES, PRIME MINISTER