dominion and control
Posted: 08 July 2008 09:15 AM   [ Ignore ]
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I’m an appellate court research attorney.  I write draft opinions and legal memoranda for a state appellate court.  I’m working on an issue involving the phrase “dominion and control,” which appears in a variety of legal contexts.  For example, it’s requently said in appellate opinions that an element of the crime of possession of an illegal drug, is that the accused exercise dominion and control over the substance.
Years ago, I read in a book called “Word Play” by Peter Farb that some phrases (I think “hue and cry” is one) consist of words that mean the same thing, but one is of Norman origin and the other is English.  Such phrases came into use in England when French kings were on the English throne, and were used at the royal court, where there were both French and English speakers.  Or something like that.
Anyway, I’d like to know if dominion and control is one of those phrases.  It would be extremely cool if I could work this into one of my memos, and from there into one of the court’s decision.  Thanks for reading and thinking about this.

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Posted: 08 July 2008 09:26 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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’Fraid not.  Both are from French.  In addition, “control” as a noun entered English pretty late (late 16th century) to be part of such a pair, and the sense in question has migrated far from the sense of the verb, which entered earlier: “[a. F. contrôler (16th c. in Littré), earlier contreroller (c 1300 in Anglo-Fr.) ‘to take and keepe a copie of a roll of accounts, to controll, obserue, ouersee, spie faults in’ (Cotgr.), f. F. contrerolle (now contrôle...]...To check or verify, and hence to regulate (payments, receipts, or accounts generally): orig. by comparison with a ‘counter-roll’ or duplicate register....”

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Posted: 08 July 2008 01:08 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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Welcome, Paul. Thank you for an interesting first post. The wording of your post suggests that you consider “dominion” and “control” to mean the same thing. Am I reading you aright? If so, could you give a definition which would apply equally to both words? And if only one of the two words were used in a sentence, rather than both of them, would the sentence mean exactly the same, whichever of the two words were used? It seems to me logical that the use of two nouns, one beside the other, would be to give a sentence a different --- perhaps more extensive? or perhaps more particular? --- meaning than if only one or other of the two words were used. If this is indeed the case, how would the meaning of “dominion and control” differ from that of either word singly?

I realize that my question isn’t exactly etymology --but it does have two things going for it: (a) It isn’t theology (b) It’s squeaky clean ;-)

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Posted: 09 July 2008 01:48 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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According to AHD, both “hue” and “cry” are derived from Old French via “Anglo-Norman”. One begins to wonder what Mr. Farb was talking about, and what phrases he actually had in mind.

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Posted: 09 July 2008 02:42 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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lionello - 09 July 2008 01:48 AM

According to AHD, both “hue” and “cry” are derived from Old French via “Anglo-Norman”. One begins to wonder what Mr. Farb was talking about, and what phrases he actually had in mind.

I ws going to say “let and hindrance” but they’re both from OE. The bubble from my memory swamp is that the practice of double nouning came from OE translating from Latin, hitting the edges of a Latin word that had no exact equivalent in OE.

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Posted: 09 July 2008 04:22 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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Nor part and parcel, nor aiding and abetting

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Posted: 09 July 2008 05:25 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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Nor “cease and desist"…

Is the English/French pairing just a myth?  It is a nice, neat, elegantly memorable story, which makes it a good candidate for myth.

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Posted: 09 July 2008 06:06 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
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Black’s Law Dictionary, 8th ed., doesn’t list the phrase dominion and control. It defines dominion as “control; possession.” The definition given for control is “the direct or indirect power to direct the management and policies of a person or entity, whether through ownership of voting securities, by contract, or otherwise; the power or authority to manage, direct, or oversee.”

So it would appear that in the modern, legal context of drug possession the two are as close to exact synonyms as any words ever get. (There would be greater differences in usage in other contexts like securities regulation.) Although I would say there is a slight difference in emphasis. In my reading, dominion would emphasize the right of ownership and control the power, but the emphasis is slight and doesn’t change the basic meaning.

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Posted: 09 July 2008 07:47 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]
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The French-English pairing idea was discussed, and largely dismissed, in this old thread: Doublets in legalese.

The prevalence of such belt-and-suspenders redundancy in legal language was also discussed in this thread: Quick with child.

[ Edited: 09 July 2008 10:16 AM by Dr. Techie ]
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Posted: 09 July 2008 08:56 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]
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Thank you all so much.
It appears that I made up (inadvertently I hasten to add) the hue-and-cry example.  Here’s what Farb says:  Following the Norman conquest, lots of Norman derived words made it into English.  This brought about “a lasting split between the Norman-derived vocabulary of English speakers who desired advancement and the Anglo-Saxon of the common people....  During the early Middle English period, speakers of both Norman and Anglo-Saxon attempted to heal the linquistic divide by using synonyms derived from both speech communities--which is the origin of the numeous parallel expressions still in use, such as law and order, acknowledge and confess, help and succor, lord and master, love and cherish, ways and means.”
It’s not entirely clear from Farb’s end notes what his sources for this particular point are, but it appears to me he’s relying on Historical Linquistics and Generative Grammar by Robert D. King (1969 Prentice Hall) and Historical Linguistics by Winfred P. Lehman (1962 Holt, Rinehart &Winston).  I don’t have immediate access to these sources, but I’m going to make an attempt to track them down.

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Posted: 09 July 2008 10:14 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]
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Paul quoting Farb - 09 July 2008 08:56 AM

… “During the early Middle English period, ... which is the origin of ... law and order, acknowledge and confess, help and succor, lord and master, love and cherish, ways and means.” ...

I think Middle English is generally considered 1066 to sometime mid-1400s up to 1500.
According to etymonline:
“ways and means” is c1430 - not exactly “early”
“law and order” is 1796 - not even early Modern English
“acknowledge” by itself is listed as 1553

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Posted: 09 July 2008 11:15 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 11 ]
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Sounds like one more case of someone taking an appealing idea with no basis in fact, and tarting it up to sound like the result of serious research. Oh Lord the world’s just full of them.

Stick around, Paul --- you started one of the most interesting and thought-provoking of recent threads. Checking out “kith and kin” (another non-starter, as regards Mr. Farb’s hypothesis --- kith and kin aren’t synonyms to begin with, anyway) I find there is a connection between “kith” and (un)"couth". Ain’t langwidge fun?

Dr. Techie --- thanks for those old threads, they were really worth reading and I enjoyed them greatly.

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Posted: 24 May 2009 07:28 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 12 ]
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I know this is a late reply and I am new to this site, but couldn’t pass up the opportunity to offer another view.
‘Dominion and Control’ as it applies in the Law Enforcement community means to establish dominance of a residence or place of interest when conducting a search warrant or entry into a hostile situation and Control the situation and all persons of interest.

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Posted: 24 May 2009 11:10 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 13 ]
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FWIW, I don’t think that the origin of the words, interesting though etymology always is, is really relevant to their use in law.  As Jim Wilton said in the first thread Dr Techie cited:
The repetition comes from a motivation to draft a contract that has no ambiguity.

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