Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Further/Farther on up the Road

Lord knows the difference between further and farther has been covered on the internet too many times to count, but if a ballpark number helps to illustrate, consider the following google results:

"difference between further and farther" About 14,900,000 results (0.23 seconds)
"difference between farther and further" About 1,510,000 results (0.22 seconds)

Traditionally (and prescriptively), farther is used when referring to a distance of literal, physical movement and further is used when referring to a metaphorical distance or a degree.

I walked farther into the forest to delve further into the wonders of flora and fauna.

But Eric Clapton was not incorrect when he sang "Further on up the road, baby, just you wait and see."

Many consider the two words to be interchangeable in most uses. See here, here and here.

The reason I bring this up is that I saw the following brochure at the bank today.

Though I grew up instilled with the traditional differences in meaning, I have recently noticed that I am becoming more accustomed to the interchangeability of farther and further when referencing distances involving actual physical movement. I barely noticed the phrasing in the brochure.

There was also a poster at the bank from the "Go further" campaign that showed a couple behind the wheel of a boat. So the brochure and the poster both illustrated physical movement while using the word further.

Look how far fur has come in its non-figurative use.

Though I will say that I have quite a hard time with the reverse interchangeability. Using farther for metaphorical distances or degrees still sounds unnatural to me.


AJ Seidl said...

Are you possibly taking the meaning of the phrasing along with the imagery too literally? Doesn't the bank only help you get "further" towards goals? Financial planning doesn't get you "farther" unless you're trying to make $300 in Greyhound tickets last.

Laura Payne said...

AJ - My point was that I was surprised the bank would use so much imagery in the campaign connecting the word "further" to what is traditionally associated with the word "farther". I realize the overall campaign is metaphoric.

fun run said...

Such a confusing word, but this really have different meanings.

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