Date: Wed, 1 Oct 1997 11:59:26 EDT From: Peter Slomanson 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