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Dylan Nicholson wrote on 26 Jul 2004:

I don't believe it's ever incorrect to use 'further' for physical distances though.

Only in BrE, so that means you're right about Australian English.

I had not been in Australia long before someone told me that 'farther' does not exist in Australian English. This has not stopped me from using it, and I note that many Australian writers, even including some journalists, make the the distinction between 'further' and 'farther'.

Rob Bannister
Richard R. Hershberger wrote on 27 Jul 2004:
Richard R. Hershberger wrote on 26 Jul 2004: No, Richard. ... he wrote those famous lines in the Declaration of Independence.

Well, that was a remarkable series of non sequiturs. To pick just one, I always find curious the assumption that a person using the language as he learned it on his mother's knee is purposefully dumbing down.

What ***! If I were still the using the language I learned on my mother's knee, I'd probably still be speaking and writing like a 5- year-old. I've learned a lot more about English than my mother could ever teach me, and I suspect you have too, so let's eliminate this kind of specious argument, please. If you're still speaking your mother's kneenglish, then you have nowhere to go but up and wouldn't know how to dumb it down.
The rule that 'further' cannot be used for literal distance is not and never has been part of my idiolect.

And the "rule" that 'less' cannot be used with plural count nouns has never been in the idiolects of tens of millions of native anglophones, and that makes their sense of English usage and style worthy of emulation and respect. Another example of the "less is more" dictum.
I could artificially impose it upon my language, but why bother?

Nobody's asking you or anyone else who can't and won't discriminate to make the effort. I know it's a difficult concept to grok, but even some kneenglish speakers acquire these distinctions on the knee.
The only benefit would be to mollify those few people who

As I said, we cannot and will not be mollified. You're entitled to speak and write your kneenglish. Wallow in it. Enjoy.
believe this superstition.

In all things non-linguistic, superstition is created by the ignorant. In matters linguistic, however, that which is "not in my dialect/idiolect" is debunked as superstition. That is why we cannot and will not be mollified.
Garner says, "In the best usage, 'farther' refers to physical distance, 'futher' to figurative distance" (p 285). He doesn't say that they are not used synonymously by the undiscerning, and he doesn't say that 'further' isn't used to mean 'farther' by those who don't wish to take the trouble to learn how the two words have become differentiated for some speakers and writers over the past couple hundred years. He doesn't claim that all the dictionary entries that say "'further' is also used to indicate physical distance" are incorrect or inaccurate. I didn't say that either, so I don't know where you're getting all the false information you're disseminating here.
This is not even close to being worth the effort.

Then don't bother challenging your brain about it. If kneenglish is good enough for you, it's certainly good enough for everyone else.

Franke: EFL teacher & medical editor.
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Arcadian Rises filted:
Think of the word "furthermore", which applies to figurative distance. There is no such word as "farthermore", so it's impossible to confuse "furthermore" with a non-word.

You can call it impossible if you like, but I'm sure there are people who can manage it..r
Dylan Nicholson wrote on 27 Jul 2004:
Dylan Nicholson wrote on 26 Jul 2004: Only in BrE, so that means you're right about Australian English.

Hmm, well I wasn't aware of that distinction, and oddly, out of the dictionaries I checked, it was only the ... may have something to do with the fact that the former is exactly homophonous with "father" in my (non-rhotic) speech.

That's an interesting point.

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Robert Bannister wrote on 27 Jul 2004:
Dylan Nicholson wrote on 26 Jul 2004: Only in BrE, so that means you're right about Australian English.

I had not been in Australia long before someone told me that 'farther' does not exist in Australian English. This ... it, and I note that many Australian writers, even including some journalists, make the the distinction between 'further' and 'farther'.

People who write for a living tend to get edited, and editors tend to make this distinction in writing even if not in speech. Just more evidence that the written language is different from the spoken language, and that the formal written language is different from the informal and from kneenglish.

Franke: EFL teacher & medical editor.
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R H Draney wrote on 26 Jul 2004:

Since my neighbor Angela has started the ball rolling, I'll ... grammatical uncertainty: when do you use "forward" and when "forwards"?...r

Use 'forward' when speaking or writing AmE and 'forwards' when speaking or writing BrE. That's what Garner says, and I ... Anomalous, yes, but a demonstration of how much we can trust the good sense of those who use the language.

In BrE, "forward" is usually an adjective and "forwards" an adverb. So "a forward jump", but "to jump forwards". Likewise "backward(s)" etc.
David
I avoid the problem by simply never using 'farther'. It ... reason though is that 'further' always works, making 'farther' superfluous.

Interesting. The general guide I always recommend to learners, Michael Swan's Practical English Usage , says American English insists on 'farther' for the concrete use. Certainly, I'd otherwise have said "just forget about 'farther'": it's almost gone from British-type English.

Interesting observation one I hadn't thought of. As I've said, I'm a modified American, those modifications extending to my use of the language.

Charles Riggs
Robert Bannister wrote on 27 Jul 2004:

I had not been in Australia long before someone told ... some journalists, make the the distinction between 'further' and 'farther'.

People who write for a living tend to get edited, and editors tend to make this distinction in writing even ... is different from the spoken language, and that the formal written language is different from the informal and from kneenglish.

But also evidence of an irritating practice some Australians make of generalizing from their own narrow circle to the country as a whole. I could be wrong, but I do think the habit is more marked in some Australians than in some others. I've even heard a highly-educated countrywoman say of a leading politician "Australians don't talk like that"; well, he did, but she wasn't employing a figure of speech.

Mike.
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Mike Lyle wrote on 27 Jul 2004:
Robert Bannister wrote on 27 Jul 2004: People who write ... written language is different from the informal and from kneenglish.

But also evidence of an irritating practice some Australians make of generalizing from their own narrow circle to the country ... of a leading politician "Australians don't talk like that"; well, he did, but she wasn't employing a figure of speech.

I suppose there's lots of negative things can be said about Australians (likewise for the rest of us, of course), but I'd say that this is a universal trait of all speakers who have the temerity to make any kind of judgments about their native language, mother tongue, or patella-speak.

Franke: EFL teacher & medical editor.
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