Wednesday, January 17, 2007

to solemnly tell what no man has told before

A few posts back I split an infinitive (shock/horror!!)

"they had a creepy safety officer at the time who used to solemnly tell us of his lifelong study of poisons..."

Years ago I had a comment added to the end of an essay I wrote, just after whatever mark I got, which said "infinitives are far more elegant unsplit". And by and large I have lived my life accordingly ever since.

Then, over the break I read an article somewhere in which the writer argued that this grammatical rule is pretty much poppycock.

You see the reason teachers for hundreds of years have inisted on students not splitting the infinitive, is because in Latin, from which English has evolved, the infinitive was a single word which could not be split anyway (I believe he said that some other Latin descended modern languages still sport this feature). And so on that spurious basis, we have laughed at William Shatner's " boldly go" as if he was some sort of grammatical moron.

Turns out he has the last laugh on us all. And so henceforth, I promise to boldly split my infinitives & to faithfully crusade on the issue wherever, and whenever. Like.... whatever!

There. Let that be the last word on the subject.