EVEN ALTHOUGH.

Time for another LH episode of I Did Not Know That, with accompanying quiz! I was editing a text that quoted John Stuart Mill’s essay on Utilitarianism, including the following bit: “…and hold, that the mind is not in a right state, not in a state conformable to Utility, not in the state most conducive to the general happiness, unless it does love virtue in this manner—as a thing desirable in itself, even although, in the individual instance, it should not produce those other desirable consequences which it tends to produce, and on account of which it is held to be virtue.” (Emphasis added.) I raised my eyebrows about as high as they would go at “even although,” assuming it was the result of some mishap in the process of copying the quotation, but no, a quick trip to Google Books convinced me that’s what Mill wrote. So I figured it must be some nineteenth-century usage I was unfamiliar with, and sure enough, searching on “even although” got me half a million hits, e.g. “And even although they may bear the stamp of the inspector. Mr. Poland” (1881), “Do it, even although there is no one to see” (1870), “even although Dom Miguel, for his own interest, should have wished to compromise” (1828). Just for kicks, I thought I’d confine my search to the twenty-first century and see if I got a hit or two; imagine my shock when I got pages and pages of them: “The freedom of the consumer is restricted, even although the consumer may have been in a position to know what he was agreeing to” (2007), “even although my study request had been refused” (2010), “Even although only 2 per cent of Russian’s know how to speak Sakha” (2002). So I turn to the readership with my usual questions: are you familiar with this turn of phrase, and do you use it yourself? (I did an OED search and couldn’t find a single example of it, for what that’s worth.)

Comments

  1. The Ridger says:

    I think I’d be more likely to say “even though”, but it doesn’t sound weird or remarkable to me.

  2. “even though” every time.

  3. marie-lucie says:

    I learned, and use, “even though” and have never run into “even although”, whether orally or in writing.

  4. Yeah, I took for granted that “even though” was the expression I use myself and would expect. I’m both surprised and unsurprised that the first commenter doesn’t find “even although” weird or remarkable; that’s the kind of surprise I expect to get when I ask these questions.

  5. I’ve never come across “even although” before. I wonder if in some of the twenty-first century examples someone started changing “even though” to “although” on a word processor and forgot to take out the “even.” It sounds like you found too many for that to explain all of them, though – do you suppose it’s been in continuous use somewhere?

  6. I’m not sure if I have ever run across it. Certainly not often, and it’s very jarring.
    It causes me to fantasize, nonsensically, about someone who avoids “though”, thinking it a slangy and improper modern shortening of “although”.

  7. I have nothing to add to the main theme of this discussion, but what in the world John Stuart Mill even meant.

  8. what in the world John Stuart Mill even meant.
    The passage appears in Chapter 4 of Utilitarianism (search for “not in a state conformable to Utility”). The subject of “holds” is “utilitarian moralists”.
    Mill says it is a misconception that utilitarianism posits happiness as the sole measure of what is right and wrong: “the opponents of the utilitarian standard deem that they have a right to infer that there are other ends of human action besides happiness, and that happiness is not the standard of approbation and disapprobation.” He says that virtue can be held in esteem “disinterestedly”, “in itself”, for what it is, not merely for its usefulness (utility) in attaining other desirable consequences, such as happiness.
    Utilitarian moralists “recognise as a psychological fact the possibility of [virtue] being, to the individual, a good in itself, without looking to any end beyond it”. It may well be that “in the individual instance, it [has not produced] those other desirable consequences which it tends to produce”. But that may be because it has not yet produced them. These instances are exceptions. They do not make it irrational to believe that virtue can be held in esteem “disinterestedly” and be its own happy reward.

    Virtue, according to the utilitarian doctrine, is not naturally and originally part of the end, but it is capable of becoming so; and in those who love it disinterestedly it has become so, and is desired and cherished, not as a means to happiness, but as a part of their happiness.

    In reading certain philosophers, one has to be prepared to let one’s head swim and yet hold on tight, as in a ride on an extravagant roller coaster. You have to go with the flow, and remember that it will soon be over and you can collect your thoughts again. After many such rides with many philosophers, you are may conclude that the notions of “virtue”, “happiness”, “in itself” etc are just cheap thrills, and that there must be places where you could spend your mental money more profitably.

  9. Of course, when whizzing past certain bends in the tracks, you may get glimpses in the distance of bigger and better rides. So you may continue to read old-timey philosophers, precisely because they built structures that allow such bird’s-eye views, however brief, of bigger and better things to think about.

  10. I’m the odd one out as I think the usage unremarkable, but then I am not a native speaker and thus sometimes prone to overly formal language.

  11. Sure. Perfectly idiomatic: I’m sure I say it all the time. Just a metrical variant of “even though,” isn’t it? Has a bit more of a pause and rear.

  12. Stu Clayton, thank you. What a roundabout way to say what you mean.

  13. A reader points out to me that native Glaswegian late-night talk show host Craig Ferguson says “even although,” so maybe it’s a Scottish thing?

  14. OED has “even although” in the definition of “geosynclinal”: “even although the continuity of this is broken by smaller depressions.” So Murray’s men were at least familiar with the construction, even if they didn’t think it needed a mention on its own.
    It also makes appearances in the quots:
    bush, v.: Goldie 1862 “even although we had to bush it for a night or two”
    predial: “even although there may be more than one grown upon the same land within the year.”
    sequestration: Smith 1959 “even although chelation itself covers many phenomena which would not be considered sequestration.  ”
    sow-tistle: Delamer 1855 “Even although we may be inclined to refuse the sowthistle [as a salad-plant].”
    symmetrical: Balfour 1849 “even although the pistil may be abnormal. ”

  15. I would not use “even although”, but it sounds like perfectly good English to me. In looking some web references, I got the impression that some people think of “even though” and “although” as being stylistic alternatives, so maybe the problem with “even although” for some of us is that it sounds redundant.

  16. Personally, it’s the “even” and the comma that follows “although” that causes my brow to furrow.
    I tend to like the pause that follows the mouthful of ‘although’ and reserve ‘though’ as a synonym for ‘however’.

  17. It also makes appearances in the quots
    Obviously I didn’t search properly; thanks for finding those and passing them along.

  18. John Burgess says:

    Not part of my dialect and I don’t recall coming across it before this post. Which means I must have mentally ‘corrected’ it wile reading Mills.

  19. I find it a bit strange, but not as eyebrow-raisingly so as you seem to.
    With Google Books’ help, I find that it occurs in various books that I’ve read, such as Anne of the Green Gables.

  20. I’ve never noticed this phrase before now. It sounds like a mistake, and it’s only when I replaced it with “though” that I was able to make any sense of what he was saying. Victorian style is very hard to wade through nowadays. Thank God for Orwell; I wonder if he’ll ever become hard to read.

  21. Actually, I don’t think I’d raise an eyebrow if I heard it in speech. I’m sure I’ve heard it many times before. But I’d consider it a mistake if I found it in writing, something to be corrected. It looks sloppy and wrong.

  22. Garrigus Carraig says:

    Always “even though” for me. I find “even although” to be immediately jarring, & if I’d first heard it from someone who was not an established writer, I’d have interpreted it as a hypercorrection or a regionalism.

  23. Garrigus Carraig says:

    I am also jarred by the high/low number of Sakha speakers. What is to be done?

  24. Everyone must move to Yakutia for a minimum of two years, comrade. It’s the only way.

  25. Looks weird to me, though perhaps more superhifalutin than wrong. I don’t recall ever seeing it, which means approximately nothing.

  26. Fowler (Gowers’ revision) devotes almost a full page to [ though. 1. Though, although . . . ] with nary a mention of “even although”.

  27. Even bolded, I couldn’t see what the fuss was about, “even though” I never say “even although”. It just instinctively made sense.

  28. In the particular United States, the particular Netherlands as well as Turkey, the particular Court rejected the particular claim that <censored> argument for the particular generic name merchandise, maintaining the particular <censored> brand trademark as a new single effectiveness Chinese court in counterfeit <censored> registered trademark of civil as well as criminal cases also made the same decision.
    Yeesh.

  29. Alas, spam-quoting postings will now be a thing of the past.

  30. If this is still open, I just finished reading Peter May’s The Chess Men from 2013. There are three sections where the “even although” is used with the subsequent sentence also having even in it. It irked me enough that I marked the second two assuming his editor must have been rushed. It felt awkward at least; at most, sloppy.
    Page 275 and 296

  31. I was just watching “The Sandlot” (hadn’t seen it since I was a kid), and the phrase was used in the opening voiceover. Cringe!

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