Date: Wed, 1 Oct 1997 11:59:26 EDT
From: Peter Slomanson peter_slomanson[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE]FRANKLIN.COM
Subject: Re: yadda, yadda, yadda
Jesse Sheidlower (jester[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE]panix.com) writes:
I'm seeing this term showing up in print a lot since
"Seinfeld" did a whole show around it. Was this a
common term before that episode? Is my perception about
its expanded use one that is shared by others. Here's a
quote employing the term from a list that I'm on--if anyone
wants the exact citation, I'll get it.
In my impression it really started to surge about two to four
years ago; the _Seinfeld_ example capitalized on an existing
trend rather than started one. It has, however, been around
for quite a while; we have examples of similar forms (e.g.
"yaddada yaddada") to the 1940s if not earlier.
OK Jesse, you just used an interesting construction that I've
been noticing for a while.
"...capitalized on an existing trend rather than started one..."
For me tensed verbs after "rather than" don't work. I would
only say "rather than starting one." Actually, past tense verbs
sound odder to me than present tense verbs in comparable
sentences, but all in all I expect to use verb + ing or a
to-less infinitive. Do you have a sense that the above
construction is actually quite common?
Consider the following two examples (the asterisk means only
that the second sentence is ungrammatical in _my_ dialect):
He tiptoed away quietly, rather than run(ning) away screaming.
* He tiptoed away quietly, rather than ran away screaming.
(BTW, I don't interpret "rather than run" and "rather than
running" identically in the asterisk-less sentence.)
Here's a citation with an overt subject preceding the tensed
verb (stranger still!):
from Muriel Spark, Memento Mori, p. 199: "He would die, rather
than my poor mother got to know about the gross infidelities."