LINGUIST List 10.351

Fri Mar 5 1999

Sum: "Similar to" and "Different from"

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  1. guenter radden, "Similar to" and "different from"

Message 1: "Similar to" and "different from"

Date: Fri, 05 Mar 1999 20:07:03 +0000
From: guenter radden <fs2a501uni-hamburg.de>
Subject: "Similar to" and "different from"

Sum: "similar to" and "different from"

I received responses from the following people: Claudia Borgonovo,
Francisco Dubert, Lance Eccles, Severyn Janes, Esme Jansen van Vuuren,
Sean Jensen, Andrew McIntyre, Victor Pekar, Asya Pereltsvaig, Marc
Picard, Karl Reinhardt, Claudia Soria, Fay Wouk, for whose language data
I am very grateful. 

Most of the languages provided, some of which are given below, follow
the same pattern as in English. The notions of closeness and similarity
tend to go with a goal marker, those of remoteness and difference tend
to go with a source marker as in Italian, Russian, Hebrew, etc.:

Italian:
a. La mia casa e' vicina alla tua
 My house is close to your (house)
b. La mia casa e' simile alla tua
 My house is similar to your (house)
c. La mia casa e' lontana dalla tua
 My house is far away from your (house)
d. La mia casa e' diversa dalla tua
 My house is different from your (house)

French and Spanish have "de" for closeness, but "a" for similarity:
French:
a. Ma maison est proche/prs DE ta maison.
b. Ma maison est semblable A ta maison.
c. Ma maison est loin DE ta maison.
d. Ma maison est diffrente DE ta maison.

Galician (a romance language spoken in the northwest of Spain):
a. -A mia casa est cerca da ta (est = is)
 -A mia casa cerca da ta.
 -A mia casa est prxima ta.
 -A mia casa est prxima da ta.
b. -A mia casa est lonxe da ta.
 -A mia casa est arredada da ta.
 -A mia casa est afastada da ta.
 -A mia casa est separada da ta.
c. -A mia casa semellante ta
 -A mia casa similar ta
 -A mia casa parecida ta.
d. -A mia casa distinta da ta
 -A mia casa diferente da ta

As in English, the goal form "diferente A" is also used and even seems
to be the norm in Mexican Spanish and is frowned upon by purists.

Chinese is interesting in that uses the same preposition with "similar"
and "different" and another preposition for distance:

a. My house is close to your house.
 Wode fangzi li nide fangzi hen jin.
 My house away-from your house very close.
b. My house is similar to your house.
 Wode fangzi gen nide fangzi yiyang.
 My house with/and your house same.
c. My house is far away from your house.
 Wode fangzi li nide fangzi hen yuan.
 My house away-from your house very far.
d. My house is different from your house.
 Wode fangzi gen nide fangzi buyiyang.
 My house with/and your house different.

Some people also pointed out to me that "different to" is very
widespread in Australian and New Zealand English. I would appreciate any
more data on these dialectal variants. 

Guenter Radden
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