on the/to the contrary

sagehen sagehen at WESTELCOM.COM
Tue Jun 6 19:00:25 UTC 2006

I've been noticing what seems to me to be an increasing use of "to the
contrary" as an introductory phrase  taking the place of "on the contrary."
That is, contradicting  something previously stated,  instead of simply
defining some particular  evidence, for example.

Googling the two phrases yielded 27.6 mln for "on the..."
and 33.5 mln for "to the...".
The first lot of each that I examined all preserved the old distinction,
giving me no support for my impression.  But, as an example, reading Hacker
& Pierson:/Off Center/, I find:
".....belies the simple interpretation that Americans have been growing
steadily more conservative. To the contrary, the index of the public mood
that Stimson has  developed suggests...."

Maybe it's not a distinction worth preserving, but......(sigh).

~@:>   ~@:>   ~@:>   ~@:>

The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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