[DWJ] different than, What are you reading?
mark at allums.com
Fri Nov 6 10:37:55 EST 2009
Melissa Proffitt wrote:
> On Thu, 5 Nov 2009 08:25:34 +0000, Roger Burton West wrote:
>> On Wed, Nov 04, 2009 at 10:00:13AM -0700, Melissa Proffitt wrote:
>>> My little pile of notebooks is very useful for just that reason...I figured
>>> that when I couldn't remember what year I'd read a book, I needed an
>>> auxiliary memory. A few years after I began the log, I started keeping
>>> Excel files just listing the books with no comments to help with that end of
>>> year list. *That* showed me that I was still missing books--of course I
>>> read _Anansi Boys_, so why isn't it in the record? Or _The Game_, which is
>>> just embarrassing.
>> I manage this mostly by putting a book in the list the moment I finish
>> it - even if that means getting out of bed to make the note...
> And this is where we notice that Melissa is Lazy. :)
>>> (See how I said "different from"? I know all-y'all on the other side of the
>>> Atlantic say "different to" and I am always conscious of the difference when
>>> I say or write it.)
>> Hang on, I thought you were in the USA? "Different to" in BrE is
>> generally a sign of an uneducated or careless writer, or at least
>> someone deliberately trying for that voice.
> Whether or not it's *acceptable* in British English, Americans just don't
> use that construction ever. It's true, I don't recall seeing it in print
> nearly so often as hearing it (and I was talking about speech, not writing,
> but I realize now that wasn't very clear in the first post). This
> particular phrase was pointed out to my college linguistics class by the
> professor (who was Australian and a wealth of information about how
> Australians and New Zealanders really have very different accents) as part
> of a discussion on regional variants. I don't remember that he ever talked
> about where that divergence happened, unfortunately. It's stuck with me all
> these years. Not that I'm trying to tell the English how they speak, of
> course, so I'm glad to have more specific input from you.
> Otter, we also talked about "different than" and concluded that it must be
> some localized phenomenon. I say that all the time and I don't know where I
> picked it up, because I lived all over the US while I was growing up (but
> never in New England).
One can be "different to" another, as well as different from them. I
think "different than" is quite an old phrase, and was originally based
on a grammatical mistake. Today, it is considered a "practical" usage,
much like ending sentences with prepositions are beginning to be
accepted. I still cringe to hear it, however.
Of course prepositions, like other parts of speech, are different in
Latin and Greek from prepositions in English, and I understand that some
of the old rules of English grammar are misconceptions based on rules of
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