Date: Tue, 13 Feb 1996 20:39:08 -0500 From: Jeutonne Brewer Subject: split infinitive As I remember, the prescriptive rule about the split infinitive, like the rule about double negatives and the rule proclaiming "he" as the generic pronoun, is part of a group of rules that were essentially grammarians' proclamations about what English use should be. The rules reflected the writers' preferences rather than stating a view based on the study of the structure and history of English. 18th century grammarians like Bishop Robert Lowth are best known for declaring such rules as gospel. However, the grammar of Joseph Priestley shows that there were also reasonable voices during that period. The rule states that nothing may be placed between the infinitive "to" and the bare verb form. "To not go" would thus be a split infinitive. Bare infinitives aren't condemned because there is to "to" preceding the form. The rule is based upon comparison with Latin, I think. Latin could not have split infinitives because the ad- was part of the verb form. English does things differently. As novelist Anthony Burgess wrote in his interesting grammar, Language Made Plain, prescriptive grammarians have often spanked the bottom of English because it was not Latin. I can provide a reference for a split infinitive discussion, but the information is at the office and I don't have it at hand. By the way, the ADS volume, Centennial Usage Studies, has several articles on handbooks, glossaries, dictionaries, etc. I think it is a good text for classroom use. ************************************************** * jpbrewer[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE] * * Jeutonne P. Brewer * * Department of English * * University of North Carolina at Greensboro * * Greensboro, NC 17412 * * brewerj[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE] * * brewerj[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE] * * brewerj[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE] * **************************************************