From the Editors
Our second annual Evotourism® issue recommended Indonesia’s Komodo National Park as an ideal spot to observe the endangered lizards “The Dragon King.” Laurie Mitchell Dunn, who has been there, seconded the motion: “fascinating creatures,” she says on Facebook. But Helen Salisbury objects. “These animals need to be able to exist in their natural habitats, free from human tourists,” she says. Though the dragons were such a hit online that the story went to the top of Digg, it was the brief essay by language mavens Patricia T. O’Conner and Stewart Kellerman “Write and Wrong” that sparked the most response, with some readers riled and others relieved by the contention that it’s OK to split an infinitive and end a sentence with a preposition.
The Write Stuff
The one most ignorant of grammar is more likely to be right? Drivel. Splitting an infinitive doesn’t mean much, but loss of that discipline contributes to confusion. Setting aside rules puts the burden on the ear of the listener. Such a position should never be advocated, especially by people who accept the least common denominator as the standard of language.
While it is true that many of the composition rules we learn are based on misapplication of Latin rules to English, there remain enough people who follow these rules that there are real consequences to breaking them. If you want to publish your writing in an academic journal, you must know and follow certain rules of writing whether you think they’re nonsense or not.
Thank you, Ms. O’Conner and Mr. Kellerman, for reminding us of the test to identify phony rules of grammar: “If it makes your English stilted and unnatural, it’s probably a fraud.”
Traditionally, and in every grammar text I have ever seen or taught from, “to” plus a verb is the definition of an infinitive. Not so, according to the authors, who have changed the definition to...I’m not sure what. Saying something with authority makes it so, at least in the minds of those former editors. It’s no wonder our use of the oral and written language is drifting beneath the lowest common denominator when even the experts keep changing the rules and definitions.
Professor of English,
Tell the splitting infinitives rule to all the nitpicky professors that took points off my writing!
I was disheartened and angered to read another glowing endorsement of the “artist” known as Banksy, who enjoys spouting quasi-intellectual justifications for his vandalism. He and others who tag cities all over the world use the same rationale, meanwhile destroying personal property. That his illegal activities are rewarded with praise by so many who profit from jumping on the Banksy bandwagon only confirms the cynical nature of our times. Everything becomes an object to be held in contempt by those who feel compelled to present their ideological tantrums in public. If we heap accolades upon one “bomber,” we must concede all others are at least worthy of notice.
Ann Arbor, Michigan