From reader AH:
I know I'm a little slow, but during the State of the Union, President Obama said something along the lines of the following (I'm not 100% certain that the noun was "soldier" and I don't remember the verb, but those aren't the relevant parts): "every soldier respects each other."
As soon as he'd said it, my dad and I exchanged a look of disconcertedness — Barack Obama shamelessly putting forth such a blatantly ungrammatical statement? However, when I analyzed it a moment later, I came to the conclusion that the structure "every X Ys each other" is equivalent to the structure "every X Ys each other X," which is correct, and that the more usual structure "all the Xs Y each other" is equivalent to the structure "all the Xs Y each other X," which to me seems at best ambiguous. If my reasoning is incorrect, where did I go wrong? And if my reasoning is correct, what accounts for the little jolt my dad and I (and probably other listeners) experienced as a reaction to Obama's sentence — and what accounts for the fact that we wouldn't even have noticed if he'd said "all the soldiers respect each other"?
They know that this generation’s success is only possible because past generations felt a responsibility to each other, and to the future of their country, and they know our way of life will only endure if we feel that same sense of shared responsibility.
More than that, the mission only succeeded because every member of that unit trusted each other — because you can’t charge up those stairs, into darkness and danger, unless you know that there’s somebody behind you, watching your back.
This nation is great because we get each other’s backs.
So what about "every member of that unit trusted each other"? Is it "a blatantly ungrammatical statement", as AH and her dad first thought? Or is it OK, as she later decided?
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