Wednesday, March 11, 2009
I hope you enjoy this letter, which I wrote to Dr. Walter Williams, a college professor and conservative political columnist.
Love in Christ,
Dear Dr. Williams,
Despite the fact that I appreciate your March 11 article on "general welfare" very much, and despite the fact that I usually agree with your ideas, I must say that I find your use of the split infinitive "to regularly exercise" very unpatriotic.
Some social commentators see the court decisions outlawing school prayer, but legalizing abortion, or the laws granting no-fault divorce, or the hippie movement violating sexual norms and undermining authority structures, as the social developments that have led our country into such dire straits today. But the real culprit in the slide of America from our past greatness to our present weakness is the use, even by good men such as you, Dr. Williams, of the grammar construct known as the "split infinitive."
Consider that ever since 1966, when Captain Kirk decided "to boldly go" beyond the traditional grammar structures of our language, our citizens have become less and less familiar with proper modification of the infinitive. True, we have retained the post-infinitive adverb, as "to think creatively," but the mid-infinitive adverb has come "to mostly replace" the traditional pre-infinitive adverb of our founding fathers.
Aye, there's the rub! Today, our citizens have more need of the Constitution than ever. Yet, many of the citizens see it as ancient, outdated, irrelevant. Why? We have become so accustomed to the carelessly-split infinitive, that we no longer appreciate the beauty of such a carefully-crafted phrase as "peaceably to assemble." Instead, the unfamiliarity of such a phrase leaves the young American with the impression that the Constitution, the Declaration of Independence, and the related writings of the time must be mere museum pieces.
Certainly the lack of attention to traditional morality, especially the Ten Commandments has played a role; probably the tolerance of rampant political corruption has contributed; undoubtedly the exchange of the Great Awakening's vibrant religion for today's shallow pseudo-spirituality has done it's part; but the abandment of the grammar of our founding fathers is proving to be our nation's undoing.
Therefore, Dr. Williams, I hope you will, in the future, for the good of our posterity, structure your sentences in a more patriotic way, and so do your part faithfully to defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and grammatical.
Jeff Richard Young
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