[Ads-l] _try to_ vs. _try and_

ADSGarson O'Toole adsgarsonotoole at GMAIL.COM
Sat Dec 16 11:34:39 EST 2017

Margaret Lee wrote:
>  Yes, I was taught to use 'try to' rather than 'try and'.   The old 'proper English' mandate,
> but what exactly is 'proper English'?  Who decides what is 'proper'?   Are any of you
> familiar with the Max Weinreich quote:  "A language is a dialect with an army an
> a navy" ?

The quotation linked to Max Weinreich was mentioned in this mailing
list back in 2014 by Neal Whitman who saw it mentioned in the Boston


Alice Faber and Ben Zimmer commented, and Ben pointed to a pertinent
tweet by Amanda Katz:


The tweet pointed to a note in the journal Language and Society:


The journal printed an excerpt from a Yiddish mailing list which gives
a citation. Apparently, Weinreich employed the saying but he credited
a young man who came to his lectures. The note further states that
Joshua Fishman believes he may have been the young man.


>     On ‎Saturday‎, ‎December‎ ‎16‎, ‎2017‎ ‎12‎:‎04‎:‎23‎ ‎AM‎ ‎EST, Wilson Gray <hwgray at GMAIL.COM> wrote:
>  I was somewhat intrigued to find, in Am.Sp., Vol.81, No.3, an article with
> the following title:
> Why Does Canadian English use _try to_, But British English Use _try and_?
> Not having read the article, I have no answer to that question. However, I
> *can* answer the question, "Why do _I_ use _try to_ and not _try and_?"
> The answer is simple. I was specifically *taught* not to use _try and_,
> because the construction is semi-literate and déclassé, used only by the
> ill-taught lower orders. The well-educated, better classes use only _try
> to_, as one of many small ways in which their use of language demonstrates
> their command of proper English.
> Didn't none of y'all get taught this class distinction, I reckon.
> --
> -Wilson
> -----
> All say, "How hard it is that we have to die!"---a strange complaint to
> come from the mouths of people who have had to live.
> -Mark Twain
> ------------------------------------------------------------
> The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org
> ------------------------------------------------------------
> The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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

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