From a student's homework assignment, a week ago:
(1) Number one is not necessarily
a problem with pronouns, but moreso just an incorrect slip of the
eye. In a minor way because of the spelling, as a single
word. In a major way because of the usage; spelling moreso
as two words doesn't make
the sentence any less baffling to me:
(2) Number one is not necessarily
a problem with pronouns, but more so just an incorrect slip of the
is functioning here
like contrastive more
far from rather
effect), reinforcing the but
I can use more
, without the so
, this way --
(3) Number one is not necessarily
a problem with pronouns, but more just an incorrect slip of the tongue.
or more of
(4) Number one is not necessarily
a problem with pronouns, but more of (just) an incorrect slip of the
But more so
just doesn't cut
it for me; the so
Recent versions of the OED
recognize the spelling moreso
(in the U.S.) but not the innovative usage in (1) and (2), or further
innovations to be found in writing on the web. I offer this
material as fodder for lexicographers, along with some speculations
about the development of innovative moreso
First, the spelling question. The spelling moreso
is deprecated in several
usage sources (for example, Paul Brians's Common Errors in English Usage
Evan Morris's Word Detective
site), but it is very common, and the Dec. 2002 draft revision of the OED
relevant subsection on more
mentions it as an American
(5) With ellipsis of the word or
sentence modified. Now freq. with anaphoric so... in more so (also, chiefly U.S. moreso).
In what follows, I'll mostly be citing examples with moreso
, simply because searches for
this variant produce less junk than searches for more so
. But all the uses
below could be equally well documented with more so
Now, on to the uses, beginning with those documented by the OED
. As background, there are
occurrences of more
(6a) 1852 M. ARNOLD Farewell viii, I too have wish'd,
no woman more, This starting,
feverish heart away.
(6b) 1862 G. BORROW Wild Wales
lii, 'Are the Welsh..as clannish as the Highlanders?' said I. 'Yes',
said he, 'and a good deal more'.
And then more
(7a) 1735 G. BERKELEY Def. Free-thinking in Math.
§28 This is so plain that nothing can be more so.
(7b) 1788 J. MADISON in Federalist
Papers lvii. 158 The districts in New Hampshire in which the
senators are chosen immediately by the people, are nearly as large as
will be necessary for her representatives in the congress. Those of
Massachusetts are larger than will be necessary for that purpose. And
those of New-York still more so.
(7c) 1816 J. AUSTEN Emma
I. xii. 209 'I only want to know that Mr. Martin is not very, very
bitterly disappointed.' 'A man cannot be more so,' was his short, full answer.
(7d) 1997 C. SHAW Sc. Myths
& Customs x. 223 Anyone perceived as being different from
society's norms was a potential target--no-one moreso than the local wise-woman.
The important point here is that more
with zero anaphora and more
with anaphoric so
alternation. Either could replace the other in the examples in
(6) and (7); (7d) with plain more
is especially felicitous, to my ear. The choice between one
variant and the other is a stylistic one. One relevant effect is
that, in general, explicit anaphora, as in more so
, tends to be seen as more
emphatic or contrastive than zero anaphora, as in plain more
This is as far as the OED
goes. The examples are all anaphoric. But the so
in (1) and (2) is not
anaphoric. It is, however, contrastive/emphatic, a fact that
suggests a possible route from the system illustrated in the OED
to the system illustrated in
(1) and (2): alternating more
reinterpreted as mere plain and emphatic counterparts, with no
necessary anaphoricity. This system is amply illustrated on the
web, notably by many examples with moreso
followed by than
(8a) Even moreso than in our dealings with our
fellow humans, our dealings with the life world are mired in traditions
which vary from gratitude and awe to harvesting and stewardship and on
to subdue and exploit.
(8b) I would say that the term Theism implies a system of belief
based on tradition and dogma moreso
than on logic and empirical observation.
(8c) The grace of the art is there moreso than in karate, etc., but it
is not dancing. It is relying on physics and other principles moreso than karate etc. ...
but also without an explicit than
for comparison, as in (1) and
(9) My wife and I were watching
the making of Disney's Oliver and Company on DVD. Unlike today's
extensively (and sometimes exhaustively) researched "making-of"
featurettes, you could tell this one was used moreso as a marketing tool.
At this point, moreso
to a further reinterpretation, as a simple contrastive sentence
adverbial glossable as 'even more, it is even more the case
(that/since)', without any specific standard of comparison implicated:
(10a) Unpopulated structural
elements of 'national households' evolved; moreso, those structural elements
were developed (from the beginning of the most harsh environmental
requirements for expenditure of human life on Earth).
(10b) Of course I want this guy to stop spamming people, but moreso, I want this guy to at least
take my email off his return path when sending out these...
Am mr donald ,a pilot by proffesion and i reside in the usa.am glad to
inform you that am sicerely interested in the adoption of your pet. am
guarantee the pet a lovely home . Moreso the pet is coming to a large
and a fenced garden in which it will be comfortable in playing up to
any length. At the risk of sounding rude kindly let me know the last
asking price , moreso i would
love to see the pics and as well i want to know the name of the
pet. [AMZ: Except for bolding, I've left this remarkable item
exactly as it appeared online.]
or as a simple contrastive adverb combining with a NP and glossable as
(11a) People and moreso, soldiers, should know that
conscientious objetion is not about any particular war, but to war per
(11b) Yeah, you'll notice that most of the retards you run into
play hunters and rogues, hunters moreso.
In all these developments, the connection to anaphoric comparative more
) hasn't been entirely lost,
though the uses have drifted pretty far from the models in the OED
zwicky at-sign csli period stanford period edu
Posted by Arnold Zwicky at May 30, 2005 01:09 PM