June 7, 2011

Watch me not split an infinitive.

28 comments:

edutcher said...

Somewhere Winston Churchill is hoisting a glass in your honour, M'um.

chickenlittle said...

Split infinitives reappeared in the 18th century and became more common in the 19th. Daniel Defoe, Benjamin Franklin, William Wordsworth, Abraham Lincoln, George Eliot, Henry James, and Willa Cather are among the writers who used them.

rhhardin said...

A non-split die-hard, as Fowler calls it.

"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!"

Ann Althouse said...

I'm not one of these anti-split infinitive people. I just find this clip funny because it's surprisingly unsplit. I don't really know why I did that.

Curious George said...

AA said "I don't really know why I did that."

I do. You had weiner on your mind.

Ron said...

This should have been the episode entitled "Blogging about heads"

mesquito said...

I like nothing better than to gratuitously split an infinitive.

ricpic said...

Yeah, but can you do that while performing a triple salchow off the 10 meter board?

AllenS said...

Good God, half of the crap I post is a split definitive.

gadfly said...

Pinkerton looked to be dozing off or glazing over, whichever libs are wont to do. Next time you should split your infinitives into a double entendre.

kcom said...

Jim Pinkerton is no lib, so I'm guessing he won't be wont to do that.

He worked for Reagan and Bush and has other very clear bona fides.

sean said...

And that, Prof. Althouse, is why we love you. Or, better, that is why you are the one whom we love.

Bob Ellison said...

One must break rules, especially when they are archaic and unreasonably inherited. Yoda taught: "To badly try is not the Jedi way."

However, we must stamp out the use of the non-word "purposely". It's everywhere these days.

Lem said...

NEW DETAILS: Althouse Pinkerton Bloggingheads was FAKE!! ;)

I cant get over that Koos Weiner "coverage".

Lem said...

btw.. I got this when I tried to post before.

502. That’s an error.
The server encountered a temporary error and could not complete your request.
Please try again in 30 seconds. That’s all we know
.

Coketown said...

How is purposely not a word?

Mark O said...

Did laughter ensue?

mythusmage said...

In English infinitives get split because they can be. In Latin an infinitive doesn't get split because it can't be.

WV: a candul in the wind.

Shouting Thomas said...

This Weiner thing popped up!

I don't think that Weiner is popping up so much, now that the Weiner got a spanking.

Ignorance is Bliss said...

So you ignore logic and put the period inside the quotation marks because it is aesthetically pleasing, then turn around and do that?

bagoh20 said...

It does very slightly alter the emphasis, and emphasis is what you were going for.

Simon said...

I'm very much in favor of pragmatism over formalism in matters of style, but, as time has passed, and particularly in the last year or so, I've developed a general preference for not splitting infinitives. I find that writing—both mine and other people's—is usually clearer and more straightforward that way. Perhaps it's because people often do it subconsciously in attempting to stylize and add interest and/or drama in the forms of writing rather than its content, and such experiments usually don't work nearly as well as the writer thinks. (I cringe reading things I wrote a few years ago, many of which suffer from precisely that defect!) I'm not against it when it serves a useful purpose, but I do avoid it.

Coketown said...
"How is purposely not a word?"

It's been with us since the 15th Century according to Fowler's 3d, so it's very much a word. Personally, however, I find it a little ugly and eschew it as needless variant of "deliberately."

Ann Althouse said...

Americans tend to say "on purpose," rather than "purposefully."

Did you do that on purpose?

I remember my son at a very early age thinking "on purpose" implied that what you did was wrong. I find that funny... from a legal perspective. You need the mental element of purpose to be responsible for what happened, and we often inquire about purposefulness when we're out to blame someone for something bad that happened.

Ann Althouse said...

Not the splitting an infinitive is bad.

And the truth in this particular case is that I didn't refrain from splitting on purpose, which is why it amused me that I came out with such a seemingly formal positioning of the "to."

Simon said...

Ann Althouse said...
"Not the splitting an infinitive is bad."

To require dogmatically—allowing few or no exceptions—the splitting of an infinitive does no more than reproduce the error of 20th century schoolteachers with the polarity reversed. The goal is to write clearly; an infinitive should be split when doing so will increase the clarity of the sentence; when clarity is served by not doing so, it should be left as a unit.

Phil 3:14 said...

Professor;
From what I've watched so far there's an odd tension between you and Mr. Pinkerton which I can only assume derives from the subject matter. His laughter is one of embarrassment. You sound slightly scolding like a mom who caught her son .....

I think Mr. Pinkerton feels that.

Ignorance is Bliss said...

From what I've watched so far there's an odd tension between you and Mr. Pinkerton...

Unrequited Lust. Notice his hairline and jawline.

eteam said...

Americans tend to say "on purpose," rather than "purposefully."

When I say "on purpose", I do it intentionally.

:)