2

[OED] inasmuch {adverb} = [Etymology:]
originally 3 words in as much (in northern Middle English in als mikel), subsequently sometimes written as 2 words, in asmuch, and now (especially since 17th cent.) as one.

I. In phrase inasmuch AS. [=] In so far as, [...], in proportion as,

†3. in as much (Notice the absence of as)
= [4.] In an equal or like degree, likewise.

[Beware: Only definition I contains the 4th AS; definition 3 lacks it.]

I already understand and so ask NOT about the definitions 1 and 3 above. Instead, I ask for a linguistic analysis of inasmuch (and similar syntagmas).
To parse it, I consider its original form as 3 separate words (in as much), as stated above.

1. In in as much, what do the 3 separate words mean individually?
For each of the 3 words, which definition from OED matches?
OED is linked here for your convenience: in, as, much.

2. How did the bolded 3 morphemes combine to mean definition 4? For example, 3 contains no word that means degree in definition 4. So whence did degree originate?

Please expose and explain all hidden, missing semantic drifts.

  • 1
    To the extent that these phrases can/should be broken down in a slavishly literal way, do you not consider 'as much' to refer to degree? If you're fine with 'in (so far) as' and 'in (proportion) as', it seems that 'as much' is one more transparent variation. – Jeremy Needle Jul 16 '15 at 19:45
  • @JeremyNeedle Thanks. These 3 words confuse me; so I don't understand how 'as much' refers to degree here. Also, 'in (so far) as' also confuses me. To clarify, I am NOT fine with 'in (so far) as' and 'in (proportion) as'. – NNOX Apps Jul 16 '15 at 19:49
  • 1
    Ah, I see. This is a little confusing, because 'much' is perhaps always about degree (quantity), and 'as much (as)' is a very basic expression of degree equivalence. 'Far' is degree of distance (including metaphorically), and 'so' is used (here) for equivalence; elsewhere, 'so' could indicate a large degree ("It is so far." ~ 'very'). It is true that 'in proportion as' is a rarer variant of 'in proportion to', but these prepositions are basically arbitrary in usage. This seems more appropriate for ELL or ELU. – Jeremy Needle Jul 16 '15 at 20:02
1

You won't clarify the expression "inasmuch as" by parsing. It is an idiomatic word formation and a conjunction and the only way to clarify is to show how the word elements, in, as, much, as can develop the special sense. A similar formation is insofar as, which has a parallel in German "insofern als".

| improve this answer | |
  • 1
    While this is very often the case, I actually think inasmuch, insofar, etc. have quite transparent semantic composition: 'to the extent that', 'as much as', etc. – Jeremy Needle Jul 18 '15 at 13:26

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.