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] 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."

Peter Slomanson