How different is different?
April 17, 2012 8:18 PM Subscribe
English language friends: Why do we use the word “different” when it doesn’t appear to be necessary?
posted by bryon to Writing & Language (18 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
BoingBoing’s science editor, Maggie Koerth-Baker, wrote a post about producing electricity which includes this sentence: “That Kansas coal plant is meant to produce electricity for seven different Western states.” My immediate thought is, naturally the plant would produce electricity for seven different states because it can’t produce electricity for seven of the same state. Yet I have seen many good writers in addition to Ms. Koerth-Baker use the word “different” in this way.
I can only surmise it is being employed in such instances as an intensifier and (given the state of the rest of the world) a fairly harmless one. Still, this usage is slowly becoming a pet peeve. What do you say?