(urth) OT: split infinitive [was Re: torturing BTQ]

Jerry Friedman jerry_friedman at yahoo.com
Wed Jul 29 10:22:20 PDT 2009

--- On Wed, 7/29/09, James B. Jordan <jbjordan4 at cox.net> wrote:
> At 03:10 PM 7/23/2009, you wrote:
>> Everything
>> I know about split infinitives (and some things other
>> people know) is at
>> http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Split_infinitive
> I was taught that the rule against split infinitives comes
> from the
> oppression of Latin grammar imposed on English. Latin
> infinitives are one
> word; hence English infinitives must be treated as one
> word.

You put that clearly.  However, though many people
have been taught that (including me), I'd like to see
some evidence for it.  When the rule against split
infinitives was first stated, in the 19th century, did
anyone actually justify the rule with Latin grammar?  Is
there any reason to think that was anyone's

I'd be interested in any citation earlier than the one
in the Wikipedia article (John Opdycke, 1941).  I'm not
looking for people claiming without evidence, "The split
infinitive was banned because of an analogy with Latin"--
we have plenty of those.

Jerry Friedman


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