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July 24, 2006
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Logic is really irrelevant, since language does not behave logically. "More free from" is certainly part of how English used to work. The OED is full of citations to this effect, for example:
1805 W. Saunders Mineral Waters 3 River Water..is in general much softer and more free from earthy salts.
1805 Med. Jrnl. 14 341 The district has been... more free... from typhous fever, than the more distant parts of the metropolis.
As You Like It II i Are not these woods More free from peril than the envious court?
The usage seems to have died off recently: http://books.google.com/ngrams/graph?content=more+free+from&year_start=1800&year_end=2000&corpus=0&smoothing=3
I don't see the problem with this quote, since it is not talking about a single situation, but a trend. If one group has a lower incidence of mishaps than another group, then I don't see why you can't say that they are much more free of mishaps.
Accidence: chance, unforeseen or unexpected eventuality, mishap (OED)
I provided this quote to show that the usage is not new.
1910 Times 13 Apr. 14/3 While they did not find that teetotalers were much more free from accidence than other persons, total abstainers recovered more rapidly from the effects of injuries.
D.A. Wood, I agree with you, but it's not really relevant to what I was talking about. Back when Brus and Hairy Scot started complaining about the name Webster, I assumed, perhaps wrongly, that they were referring to Webster's Third International. Webster's Third International and Merriam-Webster's Dictionary of English Usage are both published by the same company, which is named Merriam-Webster (although they weren't called Merriam-Webster when they published Webster's Third).
That's why you can't judge one Webster's publication on the basis of another Webster's publication, which was my point.
I mentioned Webster's Third because that's the dictionary that got a lot of people very angry and seems to be where a lot of the animosity towards the name "Webster" comes from.
D.A. Wood: Merriam-Webster is a company, and they publish Merriam-Webster's Dictionary of English Usage, and Webster's Third New International dictionary.
Does the etymology really matter?? Tsk tsk...
OK, I see. But "tip" isn't the backronym, "to insure promptness" is the backronym.
My point is don't blame every variant spelling or Americanism on Webster, and don't lump books together just because they're published by the same company.
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