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'between' and 'among'

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'between' and 'among'

Postby Kathleen in Norway » Thu Aug 13, 2009 4:28 am

Here I am again, Kathleen in Norway, with another disturbance about grammar. To wit:

from Alphadictionary.com/bb, the list of topics, 'Languages of the World' -- A discussion of the peculiarities of languages and the differences between them.

Ja, picky, picky! But hey, doesn't anybody care about correct English as she is spoken, or is it that I am too far out of it?

K.
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Postby Perry » Thu Aug 13, 2009 7:42 am

So what is the question, or comment about this?
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Postby Kathleen in Norway » Thu Aug 13, 2009 8:49 am

'Between' and 'Among'

Tchaa, I was taught that 'between' was between two items, and 'among' was, well, ja, among more than two items.

Are there two Grand Panjandrums out there? Or two pictures? Ahh, which would I choose BETWEEN the two....

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Postby skinem » Thu Aug 13, 2009 12:56 pm

Since there are multiple Grand Pandjandrums here you should probably choose among them.

We all have distinct interests and as you can tell from my posts, strict adherence to grammatical rules isn't mine. :shock:

I'm frequently amazed that I am capable of writing a remotely understandable sentence--if it is grammatically correct--bonus! I do bemoan the seeming loss of even basic grammar abilities in our society.

My interest tends to lie in word history and development--it's fascinating to me how words come about and meaning change with time.
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Postby Kathleen in Norway » Fri Aug 14, 2009 5:03 am

Thanks for your patience! I know this is 6th-grade grammar, and I did learn it way back then. The thing is, I keep seeing the words misused.

Because I am involved with editing and translating, it is important to me to know what is current good English usage, to avoid sounding archaic. And living here in Norway, I don't have so much chance to explore these small things.

However, Slava (bless you!) has tipped me on to a book 'Elements of Style', and I have ordered it. Will depend on that being current and correct!
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Postby Kathleen in Norway » Fri Aug 14, 2009 5:11 am

Hi, Skinem! Ski-nem, or Skin-em?

I don't find grammar all that sexy, either! But it is a tool in my work. My earlier grammar teachers would be amazed at my pirketiness.

Word History - and Dr. Bob's Word Play - are fun. I am, here in Norway, especially interested in the ancient Norron language roots surviving. For example, most of the nautical words in English come from Norron!

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Postby skinem » Fri Aug 14, 2009 11:25 am

It's Skin-em. (Actually, it's not as rough as it sounds--it was taken from the name of the small Tennessee community I lived in at the time I joined AA-Alpha Agora.)

Kathleen, you've got me interested Norron and the origination of nautical terms...I'll have to get busy now!
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Postby Audiendus » Fri Feb 26, 2010 2:40 pm

Kathleen in Norway wrote:'Between' and 'Among'

Tchaa, I was taught that 'between' was between two items, and 'among' was, well, ja, among more than two items.

'Between' can be used with more than two items to make the following distinction:

1. The plate was passed between the guests who were seated in a circle. (= it was passed in a circle from one guest to the next.)

2. The plate was passed among the guests who were seated in a circle. (= it was passed randomly from one guest to another.)
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Postby Enigma » Sun Feb 28, 2010 12:45 am

I'm unsure if you noticed, Audiendus, that the thread began four years ago, so you may not receive a reply. Just thought I'd let you know in case you didn't realise.
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Postby Slava » Sun Feb 28, 2010 7:50 am

Enigma wrote:I'm unsure if you noticed, Audiendus, that the thread began four years ago, so you may not receive a reply. Just thought I'd let you know in case you didn't realise.
How do you get 4 years? I get 6 months. August 13, 2009 is the first post.
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Postby Enigma » Sun Feb 28, 2010 4:41 pm

My bad. Most of the threads are ancient, so when I had a quick glance at the thread and saw the date 2006, I took this to be the start date. Turns out it was the date one of the posters joined the forum. :oops:
Last edited by Enigma on Sun Feb 28, 2010 5:10 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby Slava » Sun Feb 28, 2010 5:06 pm

Enigma wrote:My bad. Most of the threads are anchient, so when I had a quick glance at the thread and saw the date 2006, I took this to be the start date. Turns out it was the date one of the posters joined the forum. :oops:
Aye, oops. However, you're forgiven.

Now, back to our muttons here: what do you think of Audiensus' examples?

1. The plate was passed between the guests who were seated in a circle. (= it was passed in a circle from one guest to the next.)

2. The plate was passed among the guests who were seated in a circle. (= it was passed randomly from one guest to another.)


To me, #1 should mean the plate arrived at, or left, the table by going between two of the guests. If it were passed in an orderly circle, we'd say it was passed around. Even if we do go for this odd (to me) construction, the plate would still be going from one to the next, a step at a time. Only two people at a time would be involved.
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Postby Enigma » Sun Feb 28, 2010 5:13 pm

Slava wrote:
Enigma wrote:My bad. Most of the threads are anchient, so when I had a quick glance at the thread and saw the date 2006, I took this to be the start date. Turns out it was the date one of the posters joined the forum. :oops:
Aye, oops. However, you're forgiven.

Now, back to our muttons here: what do you think of Audiensus' examples?

1. The plate was passed between the guests who were seated in a circle. (= it was passed in a circle from one guest to the next.)

2. The plate was passed among the guests who were seated in a circle. (= it was passed randomly from one guest to another.)


To me, #1 should mean the plate arrived at, or left, the table by going between two of the guests. If it were passed in an orderly circle, we'd say it was passed around. Even if we do go for this odd (to me) construction, the plate would still be going from one to the next, a step at a time. Only two people at a time would be involved.


I agree with you. It sounds like the plate is going between two guest. It's a tad ambiguous, huh. Mind, I can't talk: I spelled ancient wrong. I changed it in my post, hoping it would go unnoticed by others, but you had to quote my post now didn't you :)

I believe Audiendus's second sentence is correct, however.
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Postby Slava » Sun Feb 28, 2010 7:41 pm

Enigma wrote:I agree with you. It sounds like the plate is going between two guest. It's a tad ambiguous, huh. Mind, I can't talk: I spelled ancient wrong. I changed it in my post, hoping it would go unnoticed by others, but you had to quote my post now didn't you :)
I admit I saw it, but chose not to comment. However, what does spelling have to do with talking?
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Postby Audiendus » Sun Feb 28, 2010 8:47 pm

The Oxford English Dictionary states:
[Between] is still the only word available to express the relation of a thing to many surrounding things severally and individually, among expressing a relation to them collectively and vaguely.

It points out that between has been used with more than two items for as long as the word has existed, i.e. over 1,000 years.

We say "Switzerland lies between France, Germany, Italy and Austria" and "a treaty was signed between the three nations". Here we are referring to a single collective relationship, not a series of bilateral ones.

And to return to my earlier post, what alternative word would you suggest if the guests were seated in a line, or if the plate only travelled a small part of the circle? "Between" seems a nice versatile word which can be used to cover all such possibilities.
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