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...and that must lead us to the conclusion that every person born in the United States is a natural-born citizen of such States, except it may be that children born on our soil to temporary sojourners or representatives of foreign Governments, are native-born citizens of the United States.
- from 1866 debate in US House of Representatives

I think the modern ear takes "except" as a conjunction here, reversing the intended meaning. Does anyone agree?

Or would you say that the sentence fragment is simply ambiguous?

- A.
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Hi,

I don't want to venture an opinion on this.

For some background,look here.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Natural-born-citizen_clause_of_the_U.S._Constitution

Clive
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Thanks, Clive.

That's where I began.
I felt that common sense gave the correct meaning, but that to read it that way was extremely awkward, at least to my ear.
I wondered if I were alone.

Rgdz, - A.
Hi,

Bear in mind it was said in 1866.

Clive
AvangiI think the modern ear takes "except" as a conjunction here, reversing the intended meaning. Does anyone agree?
I'll go along with that. Without the text's entirety, I feel this phrase " except it may be that" a bit over-killed. The meaning of "except" sets up the connotation of what is true or otherwise, based on earlier passages. I don't see any ambiguity here. But that's only my interpretation.
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Right. Even in the older parlance, I'd phrase it, "except that it be etc.", using "except" as a preposition (which is what I believe it is in the original quote).
I take it as something like, "All children in the US are fat, except they be malnourished."
I think "except" is a preposition. I think it means "unless."

All children in the US are fat, except some are malnourished.
I think it's a conjunction here.