(urth) Urth Digest, Vol 59, Issue 24

Robin Dunn bigbadgerjohnny at gmail.com
Thu Jul 30 14:25:13 PDT 2009

The wikipedia article sites a number of sources, as in this 1:

^ Walsh, Bill (2000). Contemporary Books. ed. Lapsing into a comma : a
curmudgeon’s guide to the many things that can go wrong in print—and
how to avoid them. Lincolnwood, Illinois: Contemporary Books. pp.
112–113. ISBN 0809225352.

in this article:


I too learned that 19th century grammarians introduced the skepticism
regarding the split infinitive.  To my mind, it's not unlike the large
number of words lifted directly from Latin and deposited in the
English vocabulary in the 16th and 17th centuries as part of the
Enlightenment's fascination with the ancient world.  Anything Latinate
had to be better than anything Anglo-Saxon.

The same can be said for words of French origin - as the language of
the ruling class in England, it's words were seen as higher culture
and therefore more preferable to the Anglo-Saxon roots.

As a usage question, that's exactly what it comes down to:  how do
people actually speak and write?

Our rules are like laws, they change over time, and rules are made to
be broken.

To my mind, if a split infinitive severely hampers a sentence's
clarity, it should be rewritten.  Otherwise it's 100% kosher.

Them's my two cents.

-Robin Dunn

On Thu, Jul 30, 2009 at 2:11 PM, <urth-request at lists.urth.net> wrote:
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>   1. Re:  OT: split infinitive [was Re: torturing BTQ] (Milton Jackson)
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> Message: 1
> Date: Wed, 29 Jul 2009 19:29:02 -0400
> From: Milton Jackson <miltonwjackson at gmail.com>
> Subject: Re: (urth) OT: split infinitive [was Re: torturing BTQ]
> To: The Urth Mailing List <urth at lists.urth.net>
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> When I took grammar in high school, my English teacher told me the reason
> compound verbs and infinitives shouldn't be split was that large numbers of
> words between the component parts of the phrase broke the flow of the
> sentence. How true that is I don't know, but that's what I was taught.
> On Wed, Jul 29, 2009 at 1:22 PM, Jerry Friedman <jerry_friedman at yahoo.com>wrote:
>> --- 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
>> justification?
>> 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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