[Ads-l] Someone philosophically asks:

Kate Svoboda-Spanbock katesvobodaspanbock at GMAIL.COM
Wed Dec 21 20:11:06 EST 2016

I was told never to split the infinitive - even with ‘not’.

This has always seemed unreasonable, in that it seems to me that ‘to not V’ indicates intent in some way, where ‘not to V’ sounds like you just didn’t happen to do it? 

On Dec 21, 2016, at 4:08 PM, Wilson Gray <hwgray at GMAIL.COM> wrote:

> On Wed, Dec 21, 2016 at 6:51 AM, Arnold M. Zwicky <zwicky at stanford.edu>
> wrote:
>> disapproval of BE DONE
> I had no idea that it was ever "officially," so to speak, disapproved of
> and I've never heard anyone "low-rate" or "rank" the usage. I came to the
> conclusion that BE DONE was "wrong" all by myself - or should that be the
> formerly-Britspeak "on my own"? - based on my personal experience that BE
> DONE was simply not used, except by an - or should that be the
> formerly-Britspeak "the"? - occasional member of the great unwashed, until
> I found myself in this part of the country and in my current social milieu,
> where *everybody* routinely uses _done_ in environments in which I'm
> accustomed to hearing only _through_.
> In like manner, I have the feeling that splitting an infinitive with _not_,
> as in "To _not_ boldly go..." as opposed to "_Not_ to boldly go..." is
> something brand-new that I've never heard before. It's not something that
> I've been specifically taught not to - or should that be "to not"? - use,
> as is the case with "consensus _of opinion_." Well, of course I was taught
> not to split an infinitive in general, but nothing was ever said
> specifically about not splitting an infinitive with _not_, because no one
> ever split an infinitive with _not_, AFAIK.
> Of course, now that I live a thousand miles and fifty years from where I
> learned to speak English, I find that "to not V" and "not to V" are
> probably in about equal use, judging by what I hear on TV. Besides, nobody
> sweats the stylistic crap anymore, anyhow. Can what's spoken or what's
> written eventually be understood by the hearer or by the reader? Yes? Then,
> it's good enough. The days when speech or writing was edited to reflect
> "proper English usage" before it was published in the Daily Blade or in
> NewsTIME are long gone. It ain't no days like that, no more.
> BTW, I'm surprised that you present an argumentum ex auctoritate. MWDEU or
> any other authority can never keep up with usage. Besides, it's merely an
> opinion, in any case.
> -- 
> -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

Kate Svoboda-Spanbock
katesvobodaspanbock at gmail.com

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

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