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It really is the sheep who are seated on the ground!

Today a CD arrived in the mail addressed to Robert from a soc.motss acquaintance who hasn't been heard from in a while. Loading it in a CD-drive (it wasn't labeled so it could have been data or audio) we listened to it. It was synthesized music seeming to be perhaps variations of something I'd heard of, maybe. We didn't listen to every minute of the nine tracks but did listen to a fair amount of each track. To add to the experience we were using Real One player and happened upon Annabelle the Sheep as the graphic of "choice". I'd never had the patience to see this in its full action??!! for good reasons since there isn't much: a disco ball, a butterfly, some gulls, a robin, a moon, a space ship and a few other objects pop in for a while to the mostly sleeping Annabelle. It did help when I speeded it up.

The other day while musing about the meaning of while shepherds watched their sheep all seated on the ground because I claimed it could be the sheep that were seated on the ground, Robert said that sheep don't sit. With this action before us I argued, not too successfully, that the sleeping Annabelle was seated. None of the objects in Real One were shepherds BTW. Track 9, the last one, segued into some Christmas carol fragment/variations - most disappointingly that tune (Sherborne) didn't appear.

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I find it impossible to parse that sentence otherwise than that those sheep are sitting.

I feel like asking a wooly mammoth how out of step I am with modern english speakers for that.

i'm only wooly, but i'll answer..

I agree. I understood it to mean that the sheep were sitting. And although I don't claim to be a fantastic grammarian, I think of myself as reasonably knowledgeable. (Were it otherwise, that degree in English Lit would have been impossible to obtain.)

The standard text is:

While shepherds watched their flocks by night,
All seated on the ground,
The angel of the Lord came down,
And glory shone around.

The fact that "all seated on the ground" does
not immediately follow the word "flocks"
changes what you are saying here. I don't think
it is possible to read this as "night" that
is "all seated on the ground", which is what
proximity-over-all would imply.

That could make it ambiguous as to whether it
is the shepherds or the flocks who are seated -- or
possibly whether the shepherds and flocks all
are seated on the ground in a big merry shepherd-
and-sheep kaffee klatsch, except that the
structure here is Latinate. That is, if you
are used to doing your writing in Latin then
this seems a perfectly natural way to note that
the shepherds are all seated on the ground, word
order be damned.

There are some very weird shepherds that
make an appearance in Oxford, however:

Go, shepherds, where the infant lies,
And see His humble throne;
With tears of joy in all your eyes,
Go, shepherds, kiss the Son.

Ignoring the cheering squad ("Go, shepherds, go!"),
the astonishing thing to me here is that the
shepherds have at least three eyes. In all
other occurences of tears in your eyes in
hymnody, the tears are in "both" your eyes.
But here the tears are in "all" your eyes.

If I wrote a heartwarming Christmas story,
I might title it "The Kiss of an Alien Shepherd."


Wasn't Alien Shepherd one of the Apollo astronauts?

-j, thinking about "All we[,] like sheep"

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