That’s a Whole ‘Nother’ Issue


I hate it when people say that.

Here’s the deal. There is no such word called ‘nother.’ There has never existed any such word. It’s not real. Doesn’t exist and likely (the gods help me) won’t. Yet, it’s omnipresent in colloquial speech, isn’t it? We hear it all the time in some sort of string of words like the above (title). They’ll say things like, “That’s a whole nother thing,” or “That’s a whole nother situation.”

Or, if you’re Snoop Dogg, you say “If it ain’t one thing, it’s a muthaf*ckin’ notha.*

My wife and I attended a soirée last evening with some friends, and at some point, a discussion related to English grammar emerged. Here’s the question: is there any English situation in which you can use the words ‘an’ and ‘other’ separately and it’s correct? A separate side question would be ‘if I use these two words separately in an essay or within a piece of formal writing, is it incorrect?

At the time, I didn’t have the magic of Google to help me in my linguistic side quest; that had to wait until later. But I was still intrigued by the question.

Historically, the word ‘another’ came from, you guessed it, ‘an other’ at some point in the 16th Century. I haven’t done the research, but I don’t think there’s a huge mystery as to why this happened. It’s the same reason why most literal amalgams occur, and that’s for easy of pronunciation. Even if you look at it separately (an other), you want to read it with a space or a lull in your words. No need, right?

I have since looked this question up and, though most voices out there are adamant in proclaiming the existence of a grammatically acceptable allowance for the separation of words, there are a couple voices out there which say otherwise. One entry said that if you were describing “a different one,” you could use ‘an other’, but if you were describing one more of the same, you would use ‘another.’

Much of what I landed upon was a football field of fora dedicated to the topic. Many who were voicing their opinions on whether or not it was correct, and if the separated term existed or not.

I simply find it interesting, and I’m willing to leave it at that.

But, please, whichever side you choose, I beg you to stop using the ‘a whole nother’ nonsensical phrase. It’s not something we need our progeny growing up with. Now, what we do give our progeny with regard to language education is a whole other matter..

LP

 

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One thought on “That’s a Whole ‘Nother’ Issue

  1. sarilleny says:

    I tend to run into similar issues frequently when texting. I’ll go to write some colloquial phrase or typical idiom, and then pause with a sort of what-the-fuck expression, because whether it is a legitimate term or not, I can not type, “by the skin of my teeth,” without picking apart the phrase and thinking, ‘Why is this a thing that works? What does that even mean?’ Nope. Delete. Retype…

    ‘nother,’ will be joining that list

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