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Ask Me--"Advocate for"

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Does it bother you that writers in the Times and other publications have recently been putting the word "for" after the word advocate, which already means speak for and hardly needs another "for"?--Richard Dudman

My first impulse was to answer the question, "Not especially." But on reflection, I'll change that to "not at all." One of the Oxford English Dictionary's (OED) definition for the verb advocate (without the for) is: "To act as an advocate for; to support, recommend, or speak in favour of (a person or thing)." There is a citation as early as 1599, but nearly two hundred years later, it still met with disapproval as a neologism. Benjamin Franklin wrote in a 1789 letter: "During my late absence in France, I find that several other new words have been introduced into our parliamentary language. For example I find a verb..from the substantive advocate; The gentleman who advocates, or who has advocated that motion... If you should happen to be of my opinion with respect to these innovations, you will use your authority in reprobating them."

The OED has a separate entry for advocate for, with the same meaning, and citations dating from 1607, including this from Daniel Defoe in 1704: " I am not Advocating for the Dissenters, but for Representing things as they really are."

It seems to me that over the years, the two forms have developed different, and useful, meanings. Advocate=recommend. Advocate for=speak or argue on behalf of (as Defoe used it). So, getting back to Mr. Dudman's question, I'm all for the for.

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junkmonkey's picture

Now prove me wrong in hating the growing trend I have noticed
of people saying they will 'reply back' to me about things.

benyagoda's picture

No, you're right.

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