behalf
Posted: 10 September 2016 02:17 AM   [ Ignore ]
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The use of “on behalf of X” or “on X’s behalf” to mean ‘by X” has long grated on me as, in my head, the phrase is supposed to mean “for X (by someone else)”. I’ve assumed that it is basically a case of speakers selecting “on behalf of” instead of “on the part of”.

Examples from the wild (full context makes the meaning plain):

“This is obviously plagiarism. Obviously, a grievous error on behalf of someone on the Trump campaign. “
http://edition.cnn.com/TRANSCRIPTS/1607/19/ath.01.html

“Was that a mistake on behalf of the AFP do you think?”
http://www.abc.net.au/worldtoday/content/2007/s1983783.htm

“ This isn’t just a rush of yuletide generosity on behalf of the trust’s management, it’s all part of the European Working Time Directive, which will apply to junior doctors from August 2004. “
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/health/3243454.stm

But a little investigation reveals that this is a quite well-established, traditional use of this word.

What are your thoughts?

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Posted: 10 September 2016 09:05 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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I think you’ve every right to have it grate on you. The examples you quote bespeak nothing more than sloppy, not to say incompetent, use of the expression.  Using an expression in a new and original way is one thing; using it where it doesn’t belong, is another; about on a par with saying “mitigate against” when you mean “militate against”.  Unfortunately, literacy is not a requirement for posting on the Internet.

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Posted: 10 September 2016 09:21 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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A usage can be well established (i.e., correct), yet still be verbose and inelegant.

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Posted: 11 September 2016 07:39 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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True, but I fail to see how it’s relevant here.

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