Emergent Order

Percunia Ante Homines

The inclusive or

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While writing my previous post, I ran into a problem. I was writing a sentence that required an inclusive or. The inclusive or is the case where A and B can be true at the same time. Unfortunately the english language has not evolved a word that acts as an inclusive or. Some may suggest the and/or construct as the solution to this problem, but I reject this on two principles:

  1. Combining two words into a new word is not proper when one word does not explain or limit the other (look up logophile).
  2. I do not like the look or sound of and/or.

Some may find it strange to reject what may be a perfectly grammatical construct on principles of aesthetics, but the rules of language are intuitive for the most part and the words that look nice tend to look nice are grammatically correct.

Since I could not find my copy of Fowler’s Dictionary of Modern English Usage (first edition), I turned to a book called Grammatically Correct which says: “Some authorities frown on this quasi-word, viewing it as a lazy substitute for more carefully crafted phrasing; others accept it. In more formal writing, it is usually better to use a few extra words in order to avoid it.” It was this reasoning which led me to write “unconstitutional, against the framers intent, or both.”


Written by weso

January 13, 2010 at 07:14

Posted in Language

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