January 25, 2009

"The phrasing is so awkward that you'd never come up with it spontaneously; thus, it's well-suited to an academic journal."

My son Jac on why law review editors adhere to a rule against "split verbs."

It's good because it's bad.

13 comments:

Shannon said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
KLDAVIS said...

So, it's a shibboleth.

rhhardin said...

Fowler (second edition)

It does not add to a writer's readableness if readers are pulled up now and again to wonder -- Why this distortion? Ah, to be sure, a non-split die-hard...It is of no avail merely to fling oneself desperately out of tempation; one must so do it that no traces of the struggle remain. Sentences must if necessary be thoroughly remodelled instead of having a word lifted from its original place and dumped elsewhere.

HelenParr said...

Another lamentable legal post. Comments probably won't hit double digits. It's like your own lawprofblogger cross to bear.

Chip Ahoy said...

^^^ Why, because it has the word "law" in it?

I read it as a language post first and a family link second and a law post hardly at all. Save for the fact they made the same oath twice in an abundance of caution, as they call it.

It's a post that leads naturally to Star Trek opening, as it refers to the myth of so-called split verbs. A myth which I heartily endorse. Don't you agree it would sound better to say "...to go boldly ... ?"

The argument to having the adverb positioned nearest the verb it modifies is a good one, but it's no closer positioned directly in front of the verb than it is positioned directly after it. Positioning it behind has the benefit of not splitting the verb, and to my ear that does sound natural.

HelenParr said...

@Chip Ahoy: No. I'm just tweeking on a tweet from the blogger's Twitter:

I did a law post -- http://tinyurl.com/9xclvf -- and expect my readers to ignore it, as usual. 11:49 AM Jan 21st from web

Johnny B. D. said...

Missing label: candyass

John Althouse Cohen said...

Another lamentable legal post. Comments probably won't hit double digits.

As Chip Ahoy said, this is a weird comment since the post isn't mainly about law. But yeah, a post about grammar and law reviews on a Sunday probably won't be a huge traffic generator.

John Althouse Cohen said...

Am told the "law" comment was a witty allusion to something, not a mistake. I stand corrected.

blake said...

Oh, where hath all the grammar lovers gone?

Since many of the dumber "rules" of English were incorporated by 18th century academics in an attempt to make English more like that most valid of all languages, Latin, one should always be suspicious of rules that make for awkward sentence constructions.

John Althouse Cohen said...

one should always be suspicious of rules that make for awkward sentence constructions.

Yes. More people need to hear this.

John Althouse Cohen said...

Comments probably won't hit double digits.

Ha!

HelenParr said...

Now I stand corrected. But you must admit this is the 'dog' post of the day--well behind Oprah, Ellen, nipples and even brussels sprouts.