The judicial function in considering and applying statutes is one of interpretation and interpretation alone. The duty of the court in every case is loyally to endeavour to ascer­tain the intention of the legislature; and to ascertain that intention by reading and interpreting the language which the legislature itself has selected for the purpose of expres­sing it. (Source)

1. What's this phenomenon called? Is this placement unusual or due to my English's primitiveness?

2. Why not situate the adverb after 'endeavour', or even split the infinitive 'to endeavour' and wedge it in between? What are the similarities and differences due to a different position?

  • The author could have avoided the bugbear in other less stilted ways, of course: The court must always dutifully endeavor to ascertain the intention of the legislature...
    – TimR
    Commented Oct 14, 2014 at 15:20
  • Also, the infinitive is unconjugated; it does not reflect tense, mood, number, or person.
    – TimR
    Commented Oct 14, 2014 at 15:38
  • As @TRomano says, this is a (poorly done) attempt to avoid split infinitives and would never occur in natural language. There are no semantic differences.
    – hunter
    Commented Oct 14, 2014 at 16:37
  • Pullum on split infinitives: "[T]he term ‘split infinitive’ is very misleading. English doesn't have an infinitive form of the verb in the way a language like French does. French succéder is a single word, but English to succeed is not; it's two words. The infinitival subordinating marker to is quite distinct from the verb."
    – user230
    Commented Oct 14, 2014 at 20:50

1 Answer 1


It is (merely) an attempt to avoid the bugbear of a "split infinitive", i.e. "to loyally endeavor".


  • 1
    If there were such a thing as a split infinitive, this might be an explanation.
    – oerkelens
    Commented Oct 14, 2014 at 14:41
  • 4
    There is such a bugbear.
    – TimR
    Commented Oct 14, 2014 at 14:43
  • 2
    To my (American) ear, splitting the infinitive sounds more natural than the original post's usage. In other words, I would rather say "The duty of the court is to loyally endeavor..." than say "The duty of the court is loyally to endeavor...".
    – Jasper
    Commented Oct 14, 2014 at 16:05
  • 1
    Yes, to boldly go is, I think, the most common way by far of placing the adverb in American speech.
    – TimR
    Commented Oct 14, 2014 at 16:35

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