Antedating of "Split Infinitive"

Chris Waigl chris at LASCRIBE.NET
Sat Dec 27 16:27:33 UTC 2008

On 27 Dec 2008, at 14:16, Joel S. Berson wrote:
> At 12/26/2008 08:36 PM, Shapiro, Fred wrote:
>> split infinitive (OED 1897)
>> 1890 _Scots Observer_ 13 Sept. 439 (British Periodicals
>> Collection)  The split infinitive ('to solemnly curse') is a captain
>> jewel in the carcanet.
> And having been forced to look up "carcenet" in the OED, it may be a
> useful postdating.

Having looked it up, too, it turned out to be a quote from
Shakespeare's Sonnet LII, which has this to say about holidays:

     Therefore are feasts so solemn and so rare,
     Since, seldom coming, in the long year set,
     Like stones of worth they thinly placed are,
     Or captain jewels in the carcanet.

If you need a postdating, there's one in the Times Digital Archive, in
an obituary of March 16, 1933, which ends wthus: "Let us remember him
as he would have us remember him, with a 'carcanet of smiles' and not
with a 'rosary of tears.'" (I took a screenshot, in case someone finds
it useful.)

Tolkien also employed _carcanet_ in The Fellowship of the Ring.

As for "split infinitive", a cursory look at the some search tools
seems to indicate that the term, as a favourite stand-in for sub-
standard writing/education/character, became a fashionable trope some
time in the second half of the 1890. Has anyone written about this,
accessible online or not?

Chris Waigl
who admires 'to solemnly curse' very much

The American Dialect Society -

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