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I do believe that I myself am a native English speaker (being that I speak my parents' native and my own heritage language, Arabic, at hardly a B2 level), but recently I've noticed an outstanding construction in my English that occasionally surfaces following the pattern "between this and between that" rather than "between this and that".

Googling variations of the former yields zilch, but I'm unsure where else to look — so I'd like to know: is this doubling of between something a "true native" English speaker would come up with, or is it simply a foreign feature of my own speech attributable to Arabic?

For context, the equivalent Arabic construction بين كذا وبين كذلك /bajna kaða wa‿bajna kaðæːlika/ (lit. between such and-between somesuch) is perfectly grammatical, and it's in fact the non-doubled form بين كذا وكذلك /bajna kaða wa‿kaðæːlika/ (between such and-somesuch) that sounds stilted — and it's a simple-enough construction that I suppose it could have been somehow naturalized in me, carrying over to my English, at an early age. I haven't yet paid enough attention to know if this phrasing is at all produced by American native speakers in my area.

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    Searching for "between * and between" on the Google Ngram Viewer, all of the results had a plural noun in place of the asterisk except for "between me and between". When I looked through the Google Books results for that, all of the hits appeared to be from translations of the Old Testament ... so while this does show that the pattern has technically been used in English, it seems like it often occurs only due to foreign influence of the kind that you already know can exist.
    – herisson
    Jan 28, 2018 at 3:26
  • I've heard of 'betwixt and between' but not 'between . .. . and between'. Is the construction : 'there is less difference between X and Y than there is between A and B' - or is it something else ?
    – Nigel J
    Jan 28, 2018 at 6:31
  • @sumelic That looks like an attempt to convey the fact that (I'm assuming it's a fact) the word for 'between' occurs twice in the Hebrew construction. It shouldn't be taken as acceptable in English (other than as a teaching device in such translation). Jan 28, 2018 at 8:21
  • @sumelic It seems to be a peculiarity of the Hebrew biblehub.com/interlinear/genesis/31-48.ht beni ubenaka
    – Nigel J
    Jan 28, 2018 at 8:23
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    @NigelJ: Hebrew and Arabic are both Semitic languages, so it makes sense that they have some grammatical similarities. But unfortunately, I think that examples from English translations of the Bible aren't very helpful for answering M. I. Wright's question, since these translations don't represent natural native English
    – herisson
    Jan 28, 2018 at 8:26

2 Answers 2

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A Google NGram search revealed only one construction parallel to the one you mention: between me and between [some other entity], where the sole hits, curiously enough, come from various translations of the Hebrew Scriptures and citations/allusions to them:

I will set my bow in the clouds, and it shall be the sign of a covenant between me, and between the earth. — Gen 9.13, Douay-Rheims Bible

The construction between x and between y imitates the bein ... uvein of Ancient (and Modern) Hebrew, but not the idiomatic usage of English. It comes from a desire to translate a sacred text as literally as possible and to omit nothing. This was a stylistic choice made by some early translators of the Bible — and even some later ones — but not, for instance, by Martin Luther, William Tyndale, or even John Wycliffe.

The result is something between English and Hebrew. The Hebrew בּין is cognate to the Arabic بَيْنَ and used identically, i.e., in a paired construction. That means that your usage lies somewhere between English and Arabic, but not in the idiom of any modern native speaker.

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  • +1, though I don’t think your last sentence is really indicated by what comes before it—the fact that it works like that in Semitic languages doesn’t necessarily imply that it doesn’t also occasionally work like that in non-influenced English. (I don’t think it ever does—at least I’ve never heard it—but you’d need something more specific to justify the claim than just the existence of the Hebrew construction.) Jan 28, 2018 at 9:23
  • Actually, an argument from silence works with language. The only Google hits come from various Bible translations and citations/allusions to them. A look at the Hebrew reveals a parallel use of a preposition behind the translation. Otherwise, the double construction would be a non-idiomatic error. Given that overwheming evidence, it would be incumbent on you to show the existence of such a non-influenced usage rather than demand proof of its absence.
    – KarlG
    Jan 28, 2018 at 9:44
  • An argument from silence works, yes, but it has to be given to work. The fact that no dictionaries give examples or definitions of doubled between and that pretty much the only Google and Google Ngram hits are from Biblical texts is absolutely valid evidence that it doesn’t exist in natural English—but in order to work as evidence, it should be included in the answer. Taken on its own, the fact that it works like this in Semitic languages doesn’t indicate that it doesn’t in English. Jan 28, 2018 at 9:49
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    OK, added those links.
    – KarlG
    Jan 28, 2018 at 10:24
  • Ahh, that's good to know. Thanks to you (and others!) for taking the time out :)
    – user124856
    Jan 28, 2018 at 18:08
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"Between x and between y" isn't an idiomatic substitute for "between x and y".

Let's look at some data from COCA (which has "20 million words each year 1990-2017").

I was able to get a few hits (89 to be exact) searching for between * and between. On the other hand, there are many more hits (31149 in total) for between * and.

Very, very few of the hits for "between x and between y" seem to be used as substitutes for "between x and y". Instead, they're mostly like this:

This results in a dramatic decrease in conflict between students and between students and faculty.
Impact of a universal prevention strategy on reading and behavioral outcomes.

That example can be rewritten as:

This results in a dramatic decrease in conflict between students. This also results in a dramatic decrease in conflict between students and faculty.

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