ILL, the verb

Laurence Horn laurence.horn at YALE.EDU
Mon Jan 28 02:28:30 UTC 2013

On Jan 27, 2013, at 7:43 PM, Wilson Gray wrote:

> On Sun, Jan 27, 2013 at 7:34 AM, Jonathan Lighter
> <wuxxmupp2000 at> wrote:
>> But I expect the unexpected.
>> The number of "obvious" innovations that seemingly take decades to evolve
>> or catch on is, well, unexpected.
> Youneverknow.
> After all, "obvious" in the mind of the beholder, as is "obscure." I
> didn't expect that "to not V" could even occur - there was no
> prescriptive rule against it, AFAIK, for the simple reason that such a
> string was non-ocurrent - let alone be running neck-and-neck with "not
> to V." Of course, the requisite rule could be understood as following
> clearly from the general proscription against splitting an infinitive.

Ah, it took me a couple of readings to realize you really are talking here just about "to not#", at the end of a clause, and not "to not V" ("I was told to not go there", which I see as indeed just an instance of infinitive splitting.  I agree that "I was told to not" with ellipsis is a lot worse than "I was told to not go", which in fact seems totally natural, infinitive-fission and all.  What's wrong with "to not" with ellipsis (as opposed to "to not V") I suspect has to do with the prosody*, but since we have the reigning world expert on such matters on our list, I defer to AMZ for the explanation.


*cf. She was told not to go but I was told TO go/*TO.
but OK: I went because I was TOLD to (go)

> Well, I still haven't heard anything like,
> "My original intent had been to boldly go where no other man had gone
> before, but I was told to not."
> But it's probably only a matter of time.
> Youneverknow.
> --
> -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 -

The American Dialect Society -

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