Annals of truncation: truncated rather

Over on ADS-L we’ve been looking at various truncations of rather, as in the idiom sooner than later for sooner rather than later. More on these cases later, but here’s yesterday’s find:

“I just want to be with you, and I want to die with you, and the children do, too – than live without you.”  (Jacqueline Kennedy to John Kennedy in October 1962, as reported in a 1964 interview with Jacqueline Kennedy, quoted in Janny Scott, “In Tapes, Candid Talk by Young Kennedy Widow”, NYT 9/12/11, p. 1)

(with stand-alone than serving for rather than).

That moved me to look at the idiom would rather ‘would prefer to’. And I found many hits for {“would die than”} in the relevant sense, for instance:

2 Eleven year old boys hang themselves because they would die than be a homosexual (link)

Firebrand American pastor Terry Jones, who has sparked off riots in Afghanistan, has said he would die than stop preaching against Islam. (link)


So truncation of the rather, with than left to carry the sense of a contrasting alternative.  Or, to look at it another way, with rather than coalesced into than.

Also some hits for {“would fight than”}:


Ouch…looks like Harry would fight than switch. Keep on smokin, Harry, but next duck. [story: Sen. Harry Reid will not view Osama bin Laden photo: ‘I don’t want to see it’] (link) [probably an allusion to “rather fight than switch”]


[about wolf characters] Slash~He’s very curious and active. would fight than be watching from the side lines. he will ALWAYS help one of his pack members when they ask for help. (link)


Having to put up with cheesy publicity events and dealing with aggressive fans who love you too much probably beats putting up with agressive drunks who would fight than listen to live music. (link)

Plus a few others:



At this point, we advised her we will not accept her attitude and to please cancel our entire food order. We reiterated we would leave than be treated that way. (link)

Go to Atom Heart Music or visit them online. Talk to Vic and Steve. Tell them we sent you. Come out smiling =) There is no place else I would go than here. (link)

So would V rather than sometimes has the shorter (and non-standard) alternative would V than.


One Response to “Annals of truncation: truncated rather

  1. than stuff « Arnold Zwicky's Blog Says:

    […] omitted. And, similarly, the rather of preference omitted in an assortment of contexts (discussion here), most especially would rather … […]

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