Sunday, 17 June 2007

Split Infinitives

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I've been thinking about why I sometimes use split infinitives, and how I automatically use them with certain words, and avoid them with others.

Now, as far as I'm concerned, there's no problem with split infinitives themselves. Those who rigidly apply grammatical rules without any regard for context, tone or audience can be just as irritating as those who have no grasp on the rules in the first place. They're usually academics.

Anyway, we all know the classic example of "to boldly go". As far as I'm concerned, "to boldly go" reads and sounds better than "to go boldly", regardless of it being 'bad grammatical style'.

To brilliantly run past the house
feels incorrect, both in writing and in speech. But
To bravely decide
sounds much better.

Personally, I think what this boils down to is that the tone, usage and emphasis of the adverb plays a major part in determining how I subconciously construct the clause itself. It's almost as if my brain decides on the chronological order of the activities described in the upcoming statement, and then acts accordingly. Eg, I make the foolish decision to shoot my family, and then I shoot them:
To foolishly shoot my family.
Blogger Gez said...

Yeah, true enough. "To shoot one's family foolishly" sounds like you are wearing a jester hat and singing a monty python song while in the act.

18 June 2007 at 10:44  
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