LINGUIST List 8.1064

Fri Jul 18 1997

Disc: Grammar in Schools

Editor for this issue: Ann Dizdar <annlinguistlist.org>


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  1. Ted Harding, Re: 8.1044, Disc: Grammar in Schools

Message 1: Re: 8.1044, Disc: Grammar in Schools

Date: Sun, 13 Jul 1997 13:23:01 +0100 (GMT+0100)
From: Ted Harding <Ted.Hardingnessie.mcc.ac.uk>
Subject: Re: 8.1044, Disc: Grammar in Schools

( Re Message From: linguistlinguistlist.org )
> 
> LINGUIST List: Vol-8-1044. Sat Jul 12 1997. ISSN: 1068-4875.
> 
> Subject: 8.1044, Disc: Grammar in Schools
> 
> I know and teach that not all infinitives contain `to'. I also give
> the students examples (e.g. `I asked him to kindly apologise') where
> placing the adverb anywhere else would cause ambiguity.
> 
> Jennifer Chew

An example I once concocted to justify "splitting the infintive" (or
not, as the case may be) is:

 A) After a heavy meal, I prepared slowly to go home digesting

 B) After a heavy meal, I prepared to slowly go home digesting

 C) After a heavy meal, I prepared to go home slowly digesting

In this context, with the possible exception of the third case, the
natural (and therefore near-enough unambiguous) association of the
adverb is as follows:

 A) After a heavy meal, I prepared_slowly to go home digesting

 B) After a heavy meal, I prepared to slowly_go_home digesting

 C) After a heavy meal, I prepared to go home slowly_digesting

(This was long ago, when you got glared at for splitting an infinitive
regardless of whether it was the only place to put the adverb so as to
express what you meant and not something else: this example achieved,
as nearly as I could, three quite distinct and natural meanings for
"... slowly to go home ...", "... to slowly go home ..." and "... to
go home slowly ...". I'm not 100 per cent happy with it, for obvious
reasons, and it would be interesting to see if anyone can come up with
a better, more clear-cut one).

[And, to really "epater les bourgeois", I reckon you could even make a
case for "... I prepared to, slowly, go home digesting": the
implication being that the meal was so very heavy that the walk home
should be correpondingly delicate, as emphasised by the pause in
rhythm marked by the commas].

Ted. (Ted.Hardingnessie.mcc.ac.uk)
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