Wednesday, September 19, 2012

What's up with further vs farther?

Yeah, I know it's been a while since I posted, and I've kinda let this blog die off, but I figure, better late than never, right?

So, to start with just a random thought: Why is it that "farther" seems to be the only word we can't use figuratively? The standard explanation is that "farther" is only used for literal distance, while "further" can be used in a figurative sense.

What's up with that? What other word do we have this rule for? As I understand it, you get to use any word you want in a figurative or metaphorical sense. Why not "farther" as well? (I guess the one other example would be "literal", which I oppose the figurative use of, since, ya know, it's the one word that's supposed to actually distinguish the two cases, and without which we can't even speak of the difference.)

It just doesn't make a whole lot of sense.

[Insert usual remark about how I composed this entire post, including navigating to and copying the link, without the mouse or trackpad.]


PH said...

It's an artificial rule foisted on us by bored pedants. The one real distinction between the two words is that no one, to my knowledge, uses "father" as an adverb.

traumerei said...

Where did you come across that rule? From one of Adlai Stevenson's speeches:

"We are a people, I tell you, that is just beginning this high adventure on this continent. It is an adventure in which young, though we are, we have done this: our people have had more happiness and prosperity over a wider area and a longer time than men have ever had since they began to live in ordered societies four thousand years ago. Since we have come so far, who shall be rash enough to set limits on our future progress, who shall say that since we have gone so far, we can go no farther?"

Tel said...

English is a living language and a pragmatic language. It is owned by the people who speak it.

There is no such thing as bad English, there is only communication between people, be it successful or unsuccessful. I suggest you just always use "further". People will get it.

Ken B said...

English is full of traps for the unwary.

Unknown said...

Looks like you didn't wait long before you decided to update your blog. Though this further vs farther is quite a good topic to start with, one may not read it but instead go on and watch a directv for business instead.

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