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Wednesday, September 16, 2009

When Symptoms First Appeared

I have time for blogs of this sort:

"when symptoms first appeared"??? Won't "when symptoms appeared" suffice? It's weird how we do this with language.

2 comments:

mijopo said...

Always nice to hear from you, thaxis. But let me defend the linguistic practice. What if I'm suffering from symptoms that manifest themselves sporadically? For example, I've been experiencing shooting pains in my leg recently, but they're there only briefly. I can sensibly distinguish when the "symptoms appear" (often in the evening) and when the "symptoms first appeared" (about three weeks ago). (and with that I write a comment longer than the original blog, I'm pathetic)

Erik said...

That's true, and the main worry with elimination of the "first". But this was in reference to swine flu, when it "first appeared". In the context, "when it appeared" would run no risk of ambiguity. In many linguistic contexts, in fact, we can drop the modifier ("first"), because it'll be clear from context that appearing was first appearing. There are scores of examples like this in the language.