prescriptivist "among"

Wilson Gray hwgray at GMAIL.COM
Mon May 24 03:04:53 UTC 2010

On Sun, May 23, 2010 at 4:42 PM, Victor Steinbok <aardvark66 at> wrote:
> In fact, even most prescription-driven recommendations that go beyond a
> single sentence include "_use 'between' following 'differences'_".

Really? This is the first that I've heard of any such "rule.". It must
be a fairly new bit of prescriptivism. During The War and through the
'50's, at least, the rule was: two, use "between" and "each other";
three or more, use "among" and "one another." This extension WRT to
"difference" is an interesting example of what might be called
"dumbing up," since this prescription is devoid of any clear semantic
or stylistic content, but it does add an exception to an otherwise
crystal-clear rule, making it harder to learn. It's a "rule" that
someone very recently added to English "grammar" just because he

Chomsky mentioned this in a lecture, once, back in the '70's, noting
that he, who's ten years older than I am, had also been taught the
simpler rule. Otherwise, he had no comment.

Speaking of pet peeves, I've noticed that "FOR-midable" is once again
being attacked by "forMID-able," thanks to the oil spill.

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 -

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