Only alternative

Click to follow
The Independent Online
From Mrs Shelagh M. Williams

Sir: I am a keen supporter of correct English usage and so was very interested in Danny Penman's article on Oxford University Press's decision to sanction the use of the split infinitive (31 July).

I noticed that Dr Lamb, chairman of the London branch of the Queen's English Society, in criticising this move, said that he would only split an infinitive "if all other alternatives are worse".

I had always understood that the word "alternative" is derived directly from the Latin alter - the other one (of two). Dr Lamb can have several choices, options, possibilities; but it would be better if he had only one "alternative".

Yours faithfully,

Shelagh M. Williams

Evesham, Worcestershire

From Mr Kevin Holland

Sir: Dr Bernard Lamb is critical of the Oxford University Press sanctioning split infinitives. He is quoted as saying "I would only do it as a last resort". So he sanctions a misplaced "only". Where will it end?

Yours faithfully,

Kevin Holland

Reader's Digest

London, W1

31 July