Same again

The Baltimore Sun

Prescriptivists admire, advocate, and long for precision in language. That is a good thing, in the main, but the longing can easily slip into a false precision. We see that when prescriptivists insist that words must keep strictly to their etymological roots or argue usage from logic rather than practice. 

One of those fine points of usage has, I think, finally fallen by the wayside. Raise your hand if you have been schooled to think that the adjective another can only legitimately refer to one more of the same thing, as when you tell the bartender, "I'll have another." 

Theodore Bernstein was firm on the point in The Careful Writer: "The word is often misused for more, others, or additional. John Bremner agreed in Words on Words

But the Oxford English Dictionary, indicating that one-more-like-the-first sense from the fourteenth century, add, "One more, one further; originally the second of two things; subsequently extended to anything additional or remaining beyond those already considered; an additional." And Merriam-Webster' Unabridged says, "being one more in addition to one or a number of the same kind : ADDITIONAL"

I notice that the same-again sense is not insisted on in the stylebook of The New York Times; neither do Bryan Garner and Merriam-Webster's Dictionary of English Usage address it. 

I move therefore that it now be placed in the category of Extinct Crotchet.

The Chair, hearing no objection ...  


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