Deconstructing Advice: Split Infinitives

I have something quite important to say, so pay attention. (And read all the way to the end before you comment please.*)

To never split infinitives is a stupid rule.

The idea behind the insistence of unsplit infinitives is that in many languages that aren’t English (most of them, I’m sure), it’s not possible to split infinitives. This rule seems to want to ignore the fact that sentence structure can differ greatly from one language to another. Forgive my lack of knowledge of modern languages; I’m going to have to use Latin as an example. It’s what I studied in high school.

In Latin, verbs always come at the end of the sentence (and also can’t split their infinitives). But in English we don’t say

The dog the ball chased,

We say

The dog chased the ball.

English allows split infinitives, and it SHOULD. It’s not my fault we have all these extra 1-3 letter words that other languages don’t necessarily have. ┬áBut damnit, I’m going to use them.

After all, should I have to clumsily say

“The boy began to strum gently the guitar strings” or “The boy began gently to strum the guitar strings”?

1. “Gently the guitar strings” sounds awful, and 2. Was he beginning gently, or strumming gently?

It seems to me that split infinitives came about so that it would be quite clear with what verb the adverb belongs, or just to give the sentence a better flow, or both, and why not? The fact that there’s an infinitive in the sentence does not become lost if it is split. That would be the ONLY reason not to split it. If the sentence flow and rhythm is better served with the split, then really, who cares if you can’t write the sentence the exact same way in Latin?

*I invite anyone who’s very strongly against split infinitives to tell me WHY in the comments. Please give a legitimate, rational reason for the unsplit infinitive. “Because that’s how it is/should be/has been” is NOT a legitimate reason (or “because that’s the rule”). I’ve seen split infinitives so many times that I’m surprised anyone ever cares anymore, so if you’re going to insist, you can at least have a real argument to back up your opinion.