Date: Thu, 9 Nov 1995 02:21:03 -0500


Subject: Re: No 'friend of yours'

To: Dennis, Kathleen, Tony & Larry and anyone else I missed when the

65 E-mail messages I received tonite blew out my memory. THANKS,

I agree with all of you.

The "friend" is a former friend. Not because I feel friends don't let

friends correct their grammar, but because I never have had time for

incorrect information. Ignorance is blitzed.

I have always believed that the English language is constantly changing &

evolving, and what is the rule today is the exception tomorrow, and commmon

usage thereafter until stilted, archaic, arcane and ancient. If it works,

if it is understood, if people accept it, then so be it.

My sister, who was a Phi Beta Kappa (they must have been desperate that year)

took great delight in correcting people. One of her favorites was:

"It's my forte," which she insisted was pronounced (fort) and not (fortay).

(Fortay) is an Italian musical term.

She had no friends.

For all those English teachers and preachers we've all had who took the rules

a bit too rigidly, may they look themselves in the mirror and say, to

paraphrase POGO:

"I've met the enemy and it's me."


Wittgenstein School of the Unwritten Word

Coconut Grove, Florida


The 'friend of yours' who 'explained' that 'friends of mine' is 'redundant'

is a linguatwit and ought to be expunged from the list of 'friends of

yours.' I guess I might roll my eyes at 'my friends of mine' (but even

there I can imagine situations - with contrastive stress - which would make

that apparently redundant string perfectly OK).

But seriously, what us linguists ought to be doing with such metalinguistic

intrusions from nonlinguists is investigating them for the linguistic folk

belief they reveal. Here 'redundancy' is taken to be some sort of

proscribed language phenomenon, but every beginning linguistics student

(and certainly every information science student in general) knows that

built-in redundancy in a variety of systems is ordinary (and apprently

crucial). Where the folk and the scientists 'disagree' ought to strike us

as ground worthy of deepeer ethnographic investigation.

But I reckon that that may not surprise some of you that that is my opinion.

Dennis Preston

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?

Seth Sklarey