by Colin McIntosh
Thirty years ago this phrase would have been meaningless to most British people. Not that 1980s trendy lefties were shy about expressing their opposition to Margaret Thatcher’s attempts to shrink state spending. It’s just that they would have said they were protesting against the cuts, rather than protesting the cuts. The transitive use of protest was reserved for phrases like protest your innocence. Now phrases like this are all over the media, imported from the US thanks to the recent exposure given to movements like Occupy Wall Street protesting (against) corporate greed and shady banking practices. The usage has recently spread to the UK, and has been taken up particularly by commentators in the media, no doubt helped by the fact that it makes sense to have a single, global (and shorter) hashtag on social media.
This fluidity in grammar patterns associated with verbs is not new. British English traditionally used the infinitive with to after help. The Royal British Legion says comfortingly but somewhat staidly:
We can help you to manage your debts… and deal with unexpected expenses
whereas the more dynamic-sounding sellmyhouse-fast-london.co.uk says:
We can help you sell your house fast! Read the rest of this entry ?