Date: Wed, 8 Nov 1995 08:27:11 -0500


Subject: a friend of mine (was Re: supervisor/coupon)

On Wed, 8 Nov 1995, SETH wrote:

I often used the phrase "friends of mine" until an erudite friend

explained that "of mine" made the phrase redundant. I argued half-heartedly

that they could have been friends of someone else, but came to accept

the hypothesis and dropped the prepositional phrase. What say you all?

I say that erudite friend of yours is missing a point. :-) Of course they

could be friends of someone else. The "of mine" would perhaps be

implicated, but if you think of Ellen Prince's familiarity scale, "a

friend" is low enough on a scale of assumed familiarity that you almost

always *have* to add "of ..." (of yours, of Steve's, of my neighbor's, of

a guy I know). Perhaps these "of ..." phrases are cancelling an

implicated "of mine," but perhaps "of mine" is just parallel with these

other "of ..." phrases, and that's why it sounds right. Perhaps it's

like, "a friend of a guy I know," which might seem (on the surface)

redundant, but ?"a friend of a guy" seems to be missing something.

Perhaps someone who's more awake than I am right now can provide a

decent analysis. :-)



Joan C. Cook Imagination is

Department of Linguistics more important

Georgetown University than knowledge.

Washington, D.C., USA

cookj[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE] --Albert Einstein