Issue 182, page 3

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Resident Curmudgeon Malcolm Tent says "Barb Dwyer is a friend of mine"

Ever since I was a kid I have wondered why we say "he is a friend of mine" instead of "he is a friend of me".  Steven Pinker would love that!  Why indeed do we use mine in what instinctively [We will soon be reviewing Pinker's book called The Language Instinct - M&M] feels like a weird construction?  The book is mine, the friend is mine, but the friend is a friend of ME. (Don't worry, I am not suggesting that we change this usage; I am simply pointing out that it is somewhat unusual.)  Note that usage guru Fowler doesn't even mention the possibility of a construction like "friend of mine"!  He does, however, note that mine was originally equivalent to my and was only used before nouns beginning with a vowel or an h.  Eventually my came to be used in all such instances and mine became a pronoun.

Note that the Encarta Dictionary recognizes the "friend of mine" usage.

Have you heard or read similar or equally distressing usages?

Do tell us. 

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Last Updated 06/28/03 11:42 AM