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I would be grateful if anyone could shed light on the usage of "between" and "among". First, I'll report two views on the matter.

Two?

QUOTE

1) In school I was taught that you use "between" for two elements and"among" for more than two elements. That's it. This rule seems to be upheld by Collins Cobuild English Dictionary for Advanced Learners as well:
Much the same is said in the Cambridge Dictionary for Advanced Learners

2) QUOTE ("Practical English Usage", Michael Swan, OUP=

*104 "between" and "among"*
1 the difference
We say that somebody or something is /between/ two or more clearly separate people or things. We use /among/ when somebody or something is in a group, a crowd or a mass of people or things which we do not see separately.

The same view is adopted by Thomson and Martinet.

and the Oxford Dictionary for Advanced Learners

Fowler, too, criticized the superstition according to which "between" should be only used for two things

UNQUOTE
So, yes, two views.

Bye, FB

"I saw something nasty in the woodshed!"
(Cold Comfort Farm, the film)
And the OED is right so often, no-one, not even Sparky, should begrudge the payment due its publisher.

QUOTE
A. preposition.
1. Expr. reciprocal action or relation involving two or more agentsindividually; reciprocally on the part of. OE.

A. Bevan The unbridgeable antagonism between private wealth, poverty and political democracy.

2. Expr. motion or communication from each of two or more bodies, places,etc., to the other or others; to and from. OE.

3. Expr. confinement or restriction to two or more parties. OE.
between you and me and the bedpost, between you and me and the gatepost, between you and me and the lamppost in confidence.

5. In or through the space, line, or route (lit. & fig.) separating (twopoints, objects, etc.) or bounded by (more than two points etc. considered individually). OE.

UNQUOTE
If you read what the Collins Dictionary for Advanced Learners or the Cald say, you should infer that sentences such as "The unbridgeable antagonism between private wealth, poverty and political democracy" are not possible, because:
QUOTE

3 betweenA relationship, discussion, or difference between two people, groups, or things is one that involves them both or relates to them both. UNQUOTE
Hence my question.
Bye, FB

"Hey, Mr. Gilmore. Best wish... Congrat... Nice suit!" (Gilmore Girls - 513)
Students: Are you brave enough to let our tutors analyse your pronunciation?
The ultimate word on your particular question is that the ... haven't consulted the ultimate authority, the users of the language.

And the OED is right so often, no-one, not even Sparky, should begrudge the payment due its publisher.

(Crossthread alert: "sort out")
Peter Morriss in his Power: A Philosophical Analysis (Manchester University Press, 1987) has a couple of relevant paragraphs (pp.3-4, esp. the second of the quotation):
"But why is ordinary language the first word? Simply, I think, that if we want to sort out and clarify what people mean by 'power' we have to make sure that we are talking about what they are talking about. People use the word 'power' a great deal, so it is obviously thought to represent something important. It would be perverse in the extreme to write a book on 'power' that bears no relationship to whatever it is that people think they are talking about when they talk of power. The first task, then, must be to get some preliminary idea of what is usually understood by the word 'power'; this is accomplished in Part I.

"Part I starts with the relevant entries in the
Oxford English Dictionary , fot in so far as there is an authoritative source of ordinary English, the OED is it. But the dictionary, whilst pointing us in the right direction (as I hope to show), cannot solve all our problems. We need something far more developed and detailed than the definitions a dictionary can provide. And to this end we need to ask other questions; questions such as: 'What do we want the tern to do?", 'Why do we feel the need for it?', and 'Why is it so prevalent in our language?". I am not asserting that the meaning of a word is discovered in its use far from it but that we can examine different interpretations of a word intelligently only if we know to what use the word is to be put."
I would be grateful if anyone could shed light on the usage of "between" and "among". First, I'll report two views on the matter.

2) QUOTE ("Practical English Usage", Michael Swan, OUP= 104 "between" and "among"* *1 the difference We say that somebody or ... children. - Our house is between* the woods, the river and the village. His house is hidden *among the trees.

That is important. Blind application of a "rule" that between can be used only of two persons or objects leads to unidiomatic speech.

"Our house is among the woods, the river and the village" sounds stilted and wrong, like "He gave the cake to John an I". In both cases it is the result of applying a "rule" that does not exist.

Steve Hayes from Tshwane, South Africa
http://www.geocities.com/Athens/7734/stevesig.htm
E-mail - see web page, or parse: shayes at dunelm full stop org full stop uk
(quoting Peter Morriss in his Power: A Philosophical Analysis )
But the dictionary, whilst pointing us in the right direction (as I hope to show), cannot solve all our problems. ... to this end we need to ask other questions; questions such as: 'What do we want the tern to do?"

Buoy, is he gullable.
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or at least incomplete, but I still would like someone to say the ultimate word on "between" and "among",

Well, if you want the ultimate word on practically any usage issue, you've come to the right place. I'll give ... wrong because they are put together by people who haven't consulted the ultimate authority, the users of the language. Katy

I just came across this, following a remark from Martin.

You really are confused, Katy. The language does not choose to retain, or even temporarily accept, all the variety that any particular section of its users chooses to bestow upon it. Many of the variations, even those accepted pro tempore, are mercifully lost very quickly.
You may think, for example, that "to sort" means "to deal with" and so may the bobby on the beat in Cambridge, that extension of the cockney Great Wen, but the fact is that speakers of proper English have to be, at the very least, amused by your defence of the usage.
That is important. Blind application of a "rule" that between can be used only of two persons or objects leads to unidiomatic speech.

The fact is that a decent rule should not say that.

Bye, FB

Io ho deciso di rifiutarmi di vederlo: Ettore con la faccia di Eric Banana mi fa venire i conati.
(commento sul film "Troy" apparso su it.fan.scrittori.tolkien)
If you read carefully my original contribution to this thread, you will find that I don't think that, and do not use the expression in that way. So please don't worry about it any more.
Katy
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If you read carefully my original contribution to this thread, you will find that I don't think that, and do not use the expression in that way. So please don't worry about it any more. Katy

I do apologise to the RRs for this truncated post. It was a reply to a small misunderstanding by rbaniste of something I wrote earlier; it's not worth reconstructing the whole thing.
Katy
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