The movement for this day is young. Two and a half hours. But I support the concept wholeheartedly.
As much of a grammar snob as I am, I actually had not heard about the origins of the rule. (Supposedly, since in Latin it is impossible to split an infinitive, since infinitives are formed by adding a suffix, 18th century grammarians decided speakers of English shouldn’t split their infinitives. Though they didn’t create a suffix for us to add instead, which would have made more sense if they thought we should model our language after Latin)
But I have no problem using a preposition to end a sentence with. And I see no reason I shouldn’t be allowed to creatively split infinitives either. As a poet, I feel the English language should be flexible enough to suit my needs. I shouldn’t have to be flexible enough to suit it. Call me selfish or lazy.
September 28 is also appropriate. The link above doesn’t say this, and its possible the founder didn’t realize this, but September 28, 1987 was the date, 17 years ago, the first episode of Star Trek:The Next Generation appeared on television. They were politically correct enough to fix the sexist nature of the 1960’s motto. “To boldly go where no man has gone before” was changed to “to boldly go where no one has gone before.” But they kept the split infinitive, because, damn it, it sounds better. And who really needs a better reason than that?
The Wikipedia article on Star Trek said it premiered on Aug 28. Wikipedia being what it is, I corrected that. StarTrek.com’s page, I would assume, has the correct date. It is certainly possible Wiki was right, and Paramount’s official site was wrong. In which case I will correct this post.
The American language borrows from a number of sources. In German, interlocutives are common. (That is, words have not only prefixes and suffixes, but ixes that go smack in the middle of the word. In fact, most German sentences consist of a single word of 35 letters or more. That’s hyperbole.)
In American, we have only one interlocutive: fucking, as in “infuckingcredible” or “absofuckinglutely”.
The split infinitive is a sort of interlocutive, since the infinitive verb is functionally one word with a two-word form (i.e., “to go”). Since a great deal of our language is Teutonic (all the fun words like women, children, kindergarten…) it makes sense to use some of the Teutonic rules.
When it comes right down to it, the purpose of language is communication. As you point out, the meter and scansion are part of that, and splitting the infinitive sounds better. Sometimes the King’s English conveys your message, and sometimes it ain’t what’s called for.
Always pleasant to meet a fellow grammar snob. 🙂
Heh, John — I hadn’t realized that today was the day ST:TNG premiered. I was just inspired by Wikipedia’s article for the day (and splitting infinitives has long been one of my pet causes).
But yes, how apropos. Thanks for the link.
That’s exactly what the world needs. More interlocuting.