Each one Adj-er than the next

Mark Mandel thnidu at GMAIL.COM
Wed May 27 17:35:59 UTC 2009

On Wed, May 27, 2009 at 7:07 AM, Randy Alexander
<strangeguitars at gmail.com> wrote:
> I'm not sure if this semantically backwards construction has been
> discussed here (I can't think of a way to search for it in the
> archives), but I've been coming across similar constructions lately.
> You can google for "each one * than the next", etc.
> I first became aware of it as part of a joke: a Protestant pastor
> finishes his sermon, processes out to the narthex to greet members of
> the congregation on their way out the door. Â One little old lady tells
> him how much she loves listening to him: each sermon is better than
> the next.

This is awfully common (ISTM), maybe because the available
alternatives are problematic. "... the last" is ambiguous with "final
member of the series" ("I am retiring, so this is my last sermon
here") as well as "most recent" ("I missed your last sermon -- my
mother-in-law was ill"). "The one before" is lengthier and more
complex, and "the previous one" sounds more formal than colloquial to

> I was just reading a journal on East Asian shamanism and came across
> this sentence:
> "The good fortune lies in the particular topics of the research
> articles: as if each of them provides the reader with a natural
> transition into the field of reference of the preceding one."
> So the reader is supposed to start with the last article, and upon
> reading that, they will be provided with a natural transition into the
> field of reference of the preceding one? Â Read the journal backwards?

Or maybe it's a slip for "a natural transition *from* the field of
reference of the preceding one."

m a m

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

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