… or are they?
There is a good argument that they mean exactly the same thing. With this premise, one can ask: Is one inappropriate or affected, out of use or archaic? For instance, “use” and “utilize” seem to mean the same thing but the use of “utilize” goes along with affected speech. Just ask Coturnix, he hates “utilize” and I agree.
But I’m not sure if “amongst” is an affectation where it is usually used, as much as it is a dialectical difference. In South African English, “amongst” seems commoner than “among” (and “commoner” is more common than “more common” by the way). This does not mean amongst is unaffected among friends. That would depend on where one lives.
I assume that Among and Amongst have the same meaning. Feel free to disagree in the comments below. However, I can also contradict myself and argue that Amongst may be a viable non-affected choice in some cases. In particular, “among” feels better when we are among people (among friends, among colleageus, among the Hmong) whilst “amongst” is better if we are amongst something inanimate. “As Tarquin stood amongst the great trees of the dark forest…”
What do you think?