Wednesday, August 03, 2011

The annals of FANBOYS

For some time, I've been on the trail of the origin of the FANBOYS mnemonic for what traditional grammar calls "coordinating conjunctions". I recently got a copy of C.T. Onions's 1971 Modern English Syntax: New edition of An Advanced English Syntax prepared from the author's materials by B.D.H. Miller.

Section 23, (p. 14) says,
"Two or more sentences, clauses, phrases, or single words, linked together by one of the conjunctions
and, but, or, nor, for, yet, only
are called co-ordinate, i.e. of the same rank; and the conjunctions which link them together are called co-ordinating conjunctions."
This is FANBOY with an extra o for only, FANBOYO, if you will.

What I'm wondering is whether this is the same as Onions's original list in the 1904 edition of An Advanced English Syntax. Might any of you have access to this?

By the way, unlike many later authors, Onions [thanks to Ian Carmichael for the link] does notice that, "in modern English prose, for (unlike the other co-ordinating conjunctions) can link together sentences only."

[See the update]


Rick Sprague said...

I don't have access to Onion's book, but wouldn't the S be accounted for by so?

Maybe it should be FANBOYOS, if that's not too Brit-slangy.

Brett said...

It would, except that Onions doesn't include so.

Ian Carmichael said...

Internet Archive has a copy of Onions - which at least US readers will have access to. sually googlebooks locks us foreigners out.