The Decline and Fall of the Infinitive

To plainly put it. . .

So they’ve decided to abjectly give up, to like throw up their hands, to meekly toss in the towel, and whatever else one does to humbly signal the barbarians that they’ve won. After trying to desperately hold the line for centuries, the Oxford Dictionary people decided to realistically accept split infinitives.

Well, why not? What good is it to anachronistically maintain a semblance of proper English in a society that long ago decided to casually ditch any academic discipline? The baby-boon generation already directs math teachers to enthusiastically accept a “sincere effort” in place of a correct answer; why should English teachers be allowed to like endanger a kid’s self-esteem by, you know, imposing icky old rules?

We defy the grammatical grumps to honestly and with the sincere conviction of their calling point out a single instance where to with the lowest of bows to the Renaissance masters split an infinitive did anything to even the slightest or just barely noticeable degree detract from clarity.

–Reprinted without any permission whatsoever from the Editorial Board of the Des Moines Register, “The Newspaper Iowa Depends Upon” (10/30/98). Despite unfortunate circumstance of its motto ending in a preposition, I think it may become the newspaper on which we all depend. I have seen no clearer example of the evils of poor grammar than the preceding editorial. As the world goes to hell in a handbasket, so goes our ability to describe the experience–but fear not, a real issue of The New Rambler will be reaching you soon in an attempt to help put that to rights.

Comments are closed.