It's a beautiful day here in the City of Gracious Living, so I went out for a walk. I stopped into a local church to pray Sext, and I saw something curious on the vestibule bulletin board. On a large piece of paper a contract was presented: I agree to fully participate in the process of preparation for the sacrament of Confirmation.
Undersigned were the confirmandi, presumably. What a neat idea, I thought. This way the children are reminded each Sunday of their public commitment to the fullness of their sacramental initiation, and the rest of the faithful have the chance to know their fervor and pray for them by name.
However, some solicitous soul had tacked this note to the contract:
"Please don't split infinitives, especially in front of children." I laughed out loud.
My mother, who has some professional authority on such questions, says that the preference for integral infinitives in written English comes from the former prejudice for the normativity of Latin in academic and scientific writing. In Latin, of course, it is impossible to split an infinitive even if you want to. Since this normativity no longer obtains (except perhaps in Latin rite Catholicism) one no longer has to strictly apply the rule against splitting infinitives, if you know what I mean. In fact, my mother says that there is an age limit, which I have unfortunately forgotten. Those younger are allowed to willfully split infinitives, while those who are older may not.