[DWJ] different than, What are you reading?

Otter Perry ottertee at silverwinggraphics.com
Fri Nov 6 14:34:00 EST 2009

On Nov 6, 2009, at 8:37 AM, Mark Allums wrote:

> 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.

Which?  Different than?  Or ending a sentence with a preposition?
To quote someone [Churchill maybe?], 'This is nonsense up with
which I will not put.'

> 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 Latin grammar.
> Mark A.

Hmmmm.  Well.  I have never been corrected on it, not by
the most rabid grammarian.  I shall have to look into this.
But I will say it is past praying for that I will ever change,
or that I will ever consider it less than perfect.

There's a thing that John McWhorter calls "blackboard
grammar", which is stuff you get taught in school and which
is hammered into you that has no real basis in past English
usage.  In the 18th century there were a couple of guys
who decided English needed its grammar tightened up
because it was establishing itself as an important inter-
national language.  Naturally they used Latin as a model.

So they established a number of rules, including the
one against double negatives.  Multiple negatives have
a long history in English; they were used for emphasis.
Shakespeare and Chaucer, for example, use them.
Also, every non-standard dialect of English uses them.

Well, I can go on and on, but I will stop.


If sex is so personal, why are we expected to
share it with someone else?

                                     -- Lily Tomlin

More information about the Dwj mailing list