Protest (as verb with direct object)
Posted: 25 October 2011 09:37 AM   [ Ignore ]
Total Posts:  240
Joined  2007-02-15

(I had a quick search here but couldn’t see this as a topic already, apologies if it is...)

It’s now pretty standard to hear on the news that:

The students were protesting the latest increases in their annual course costs.

On other forums I read, it seems this is the educated RightPondian way of using the verb, with no recourse to the now old-fashioned (?) preposition ‘about’. I say ‘educated’ as I do still see it in rants from less ‘wordy’ folk.

I kind of presume this is a LeftPondianism?

I would be delighted to hear if this is true from Left of Pond, and even more delirious to hear if anyone knows when it started being used on the Right of the Pond in this way, i.e. without the ‘about’ before the object.

I still couldn’t say it out loud myself but might just write it at a pinch if amongst others I thought used it (I am a great vessel for normal language change patterns!).

Posted: 25 October 2011 09:55 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
Total Posts:  3248
Joined  2007-01-31

The OED labels this sense and usage “Chiefly U.S.”; the earliest citation is from the late 19th century.  It sounds utterly unremarkable to my American ears.

Posted: 25 October 2011 10:02 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
Total Posts:  4110
Joined  2007-01-29

MWDEU says, “this sense of protest used as a transitive verb without the preposition can be found about as often in the U.S. Against began to be omitted around the turn of the [twentieth] century ... and protest used alone has become established in American English. British English normally still uses protest against.”

Posted: 31 October 2011 03:32 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
Total Posts:  849
Joined  2007-06-20

One curiousity: my feeling, having sub-edited/copy-edited a great deal of American wire copy recently about the Arab Spring, is that US writers are vastly more likely to call the people in protests “protesters” rather than “demonstrators”, while for British writers it’s the other way round, a feeling supported by COCA and the BNC: protesters is almost twice as common as demonstrators in COCA, demonstrators is almost twice as common as protesters in the BNC.

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