Captain Kirk and the Split Infinitive

Salon reviews The Lexicographer’s Dilemma by Rutgers English professor Jack Lynch.

Which brings us back to those split infinitives, the most famous of which is spoken by William Shatner in the opening credits of the TV series “Star Trek”: “To boldly go where no man has gone before.” The infinitive form of any English verb almost always consists of two words: “to go,” “to eat,” “to walk,” etc. The idea that those two words ought to be treated as a single, inseparable unit derives from the fact that in Latin the infinitive is one word. The imposition of Latinate grammar on English — the edict against ending sentences in a preposition is another example — is what the 18th-century grammarians have been condemned for by more liberal-minded linguists.

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