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October 31, 2003


David Giacalone

Mike O'Sullivan responded to my e-mail and suggested that trying to argue with opposing counsel over "between" and "among" could create bad blood AND waste lots of attorney time. That's probably why, as Prof Bainbridge pointed out today, we often see contracts using "between and among". Perhaps this discussion will save clients a few dollars in fees AND improve the profession's grammar.

Meanwhile, "formerly conscientious" would be a better description of my status these days than CoUA. If I ever were the profession's conscience (no wonder I burned out!), it was in the first meaning of the word, rather than the second, according to the American Heritage Dictionary -- :

1. The awareness of a moral or ethical aspect to one's conduct together with the urge to prefer right over wrong.

Not [usually], 2. A source of moral or ethical judgment or pronouncement.

with all due humility,

John Rosenberg

Well, I'm a stick-in-the-mud formalist who regrets seeing nice, and traditional, distinctions lost. The trouble with allowing the "between the states" etc. exception to the general rule that among should be used for more than two parties is that the exception will kill the rule and the two words will become indistinguishable, ending the ability economically to make the distinction they now allow.

But, as I say, that's pretty formalist. Here's a practical (even pragmatic) reason for holding on to traditional grammatical niceties: if you don't, you will make people who care about such things (of whom there are, for better or worse, quite a few) think either that you don't know much about grammar or that you don't care about it. This will lower you in their estimation. On the other hand, people who in fact neither know nor care will not even be aware that you're using the language correctly.

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