Joining the language police

March 21, 2009

One of the benefits of learning a foreign language is that it helps you understand more about your own.

But some things can’t be understood, they just have to be learned by rote. Then there are others which have a rule which is easy to understand but seem to make distinctions without making a difference and the requirement to diffentiate between less and few comes into that category.

I know this headline, Less kiwis making the move to Australia , is using the wrong word because it refers to a number not an amount so should have used fewer.

But how do you explain how to remember the difference to someone who doesn’t make the distinction or doesn’t care about it when the sentence still makes sense?

And does it matter or are the language police who defend the distinction between less and few just being pedantic?


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