I have a question about the phrase "share across" in this article:

But what makes this so significant to China’s future -- and therefore global security -- is that the league has for decades functioned as one of two incipient political parties within the Communist Party. That President Xi Jinping has essentially purged it is evidence of his gradual, mindful push to become the country’s all-powerful dictator.
Instead of sharing power across factions as his two predecessors did, Xi is consolidating power for himself.

How is "sharing power across factions" different from, say, "sharing power between factions"? I thought that when different people/groups each has a portion of something, the pattern "share ... between" should be used, not "share...across". What do native speakers think?

  • I think the important point here is that Xi is sharing the power. The factions aren't sharing the power with each other, Xi is distributing it. – stangdon Aug 10 '16 at 20:28
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    Although across is often used in the context of the observation of some measured phenomenon over a range of distinct cohorts ("We studied alcohol consumption across all age groups") that does not preclude its use as a synonym for among: "....sharing power across|among factions..." But you are right, I think, to detect a dissonance here, since across doesn't partner very well with sharing with. The age groups may share (have in common) certain traits in regard to alcohol consumption (e.g. social versus private); but here we are talking about sharing power with those groups. – Tᴚoɯɐuo Aug 11 '16 at 11:51
  • Ran out of room. Doesn't partner very well with the idea of sharing with. Sharing something with someone is not a sweep ("across") but a division and a parceling out, a division among. – Tᴚoɯɐuo Aug 11 '16 at 11:57

First, some definitions:

Between preposition 5.1 Shared by (two or more people or things) ‘The minibus will be shared between the two charities and is due to be handed over at the end of January 2005.’ - ODO

Across preposition 1 From one side to the other of (a place, area, etc.) ‘Pieces of the aircraft were strewn across a vast area.’ - ODO

Although sharing power between factions and sharing power across factions both have the idea of the factions sharing power, the sense is somewhat different.

There is the notion that between is used for only two parties, while among or across is used for more parties, but there is also a case for saying that differences between multiple parties is idiomatic, while positioning between multiple parties isn't. Have a look at this comment on ELU and the dictionary entry it cites (just before the thesaurus section). In any case, this is somewhat superficial.

The deeper nuance is that sharing something between groups has the idea of a cooperative sharing, while sharing something across groups suggests a competitive sharing. This comes from the idea that something placed between parties is accessible by every party (e.g. one party gets the whole car on weekdays, the other on weekends), while something strewn across parties is only available piecemeal by the parties (e.g. one party gets the steering wheel while another gets the engine).

In the context of political factions and power, talking about sharing power between factions suggests a friendly relationship. Talking about sharing power across factions suggests the splitting of the power base, perhaps into checks and balances, or financial vs judicial, or via some other method of apportionment.

Nevertheless, regardless of the relative merits of using between or across, your quote says that the President didn't share the power.


across - distributed (evenly) among the factions. Everyone has a say.

between - shifted among the factions. Some do at one time, others at other time.

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    That's an interesting interpretation, but can you provide any particular documentation or support for it? I mean, I could say "The children share the peanut butter between them", but that doesn't mean first one child has the peanut butter, then another one has it. – stangdon Aug 10 '16 at 20:29
  • Please provide detailed explanations and support your answers with evidence whenever possible. - From Review – Em. Aug 10 '16 at 20:33
  • @stangdon: I don't think this would be a universally recognised distinction, but I do think that if you presented a large number of native speakers with the two different preposition usages and asked them whether one works better with the "rotating, one at a time" sense, most of those who made a choice at all would endorse what Ryan says here. So I'm upvoting, if only to counterbalance what I assume is your downvote. – FumbleFingers Aug 10 '16 at 20:37
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    @RyanPhan Your answer would be much more valuable to others if you were to spend more time on it. If possible, support your conclusions with references and explain why you think your interpretation is useful. – P. E. Dant Aug 10 '16 at 20:42
  • @P.E.Dant So, "share ... across " is wrong? – meatie Aug 11 '16 at 4:37

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