[DWJ] What are you reading?

Otter Perry ottertee at silverwinggraphics.com
Sat Nov 7 15:50:33 EST 2009

On Nov 7, 2009, at 6:43 AM, Katarina Hjärpe wrote:

>> I once had an (Israeli) linguistics professor tell me that the  
>> fact that I
>> use "different than" proves that I am not a native speaker of  
>> English.
> And now I'm wondering what I say... truth be told, I think I'm  
> probably
> inconsistent, but most of the time, I probably say "different  
> from". Your
> professor was right about one thing: prepositions and the like are  
> the bane
> of ESL speakers. (In Swedish, the most common word for different is  
> "olik" =
> "unlike", which is used without a preposition. But the word  
> "annorlunda" is
> followed by "än", which I suppose would translate to "different  
> than".)

My sister the TESOL is only too aware of the difficulty people have with
prepositions.  Still, English verb forms are pretty fearsome, including
what John McWhorter dubs, for his non-specialist audience,
"meaningless do."  [E.g., you can say "I go to the store" but you
have to say "Do I go to the store?" instead of "Go I to the store?",
as would be the case in a more sensible Germanic language.
In _Our Magnificent Bastard Tongue_ he says we got this
from the only other people around who do this:  the Celts.

But, returning to prepositions and "different than":  I would
certainly say "differs from", even though I say "different than".


The only jobs for which no man is qualified are human
incubator and wet nurse. Likewise, the only job for
which no women is or can be qualified is sperm donor.

                             --  Wilma Scott Heide

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