I recently had a very frustrating conversation with a friend (over facebook, no less) in which we argued about if 'best of the best' was gramatically correct.
In short, the argument was:
'Best of the best' is grammatically correct when used in a sentence - such as, in the sentence 'We only sponsor the best athletes'; and, out of the group of athletes there is one that is the fastest/strongest (i.e, the one who is the best of the best).
Also, another example that I used was that if a Soccer team wins the grand final/world cup, they are the 'best'. If one person on the team got, say, 10 goals, they would be the 'best' of the 'best'.
His response was:
"Best" does not work on a conditional basis, where you adress one quality and then re-categorize the individual as "best of best".
My response was:
The condition is AFL skill.
One team wins, so they are the most skilled team.
One player is the best, so he is the most skilled player, of the most skilled team (The best of the best).
His response was:
"you just presented two different entities "teams" and "players" these two things are not equal and therefore cannot be addressed equally. (by making one the best of another)
eg, try making one of the "teams" the best of one of the "players"."
My final response was:
"The best player of the best team is the best of the best.
They are two 'entities'. They are SUPPOSED to be."
Then, the conversation continued.
The best player of the team, is the best player. that shit doesn't double up. you cant superlative a superlative.
"I agree. You can't.
You can't have a tallest of the tallest.
Thankfully, you Tall, Taller and Tallest. Tall can be a group, Tallest is only singular. (We don't need to worry about Taller)
So, you can have 'Tallest of the Tall'.
You can't have Best, Bester and Bestest. It's just Best.
You can be the Best of the Best - where best in the first case is singular; and, Best in the second case is a group."
I was just wondering which of us is correct?
In addition, another friend added (to aid in my argument):
Language generation rules dictate that the most commonly used meaning of a word is its meaning. Hence google becoming a verb after it began to widely be used as one. Therefore, your argument is invalid.
I was just wondering if his statement was technically correct, also.
English is not set theory. There can be a best of the best simply because we know what it means even after the logicians have demolished it. I welcome it as an alterative to the insufferable "creme de la creme", which is equally indefensible and, worse, tempts pedants to use les accents graves.
Words mean precisely and only what we agree that they mean. How could it be otherwise?