"It doesn't matter the condition . ."

Alice Faber faber at HASKINS.YALE.EDU
Wed Nov 28 22:51:52 UTC 2001

Ittaob at AOL.COM wrote:
>Recently, there's been an ad running on NY radio from a charity called the
>L'chaim Society. It urges listeners to donate their old cars to the society,
>thus receiving a tax deduction and doing a good deed. One line in the
>commercial sticks in my craw for some reason. It goes, "It doesn't matter the
>condition of the car."
>This seems like a dialectal construction to me, perhaps a Yiddishism. Now I'm
>a native (non-Jewish) New Yorker, and I've probably heard this before, but it
>just doesn't seem "right." I say this knowing that the construction is
>grammatically equivalent to "The condition of the car doesn't matter." Also,
>other uses of "it doesn't matter," like "It doesn't matter that you forgot ,"
>"It doesn't matter the condition the car is in," etc., seem like perfectly
>"standard" American English to me.
>Any thoughts?

I hear those ads on the radio all the time. However, it wasn't until
I saw this subject heading that it occurred to me that this
construction might *not* be perfectly natural to all speakers of
American English. I grew up in the NY suburbs; even though my
family's Jewish, we didn't move in Jewish cultural circles in my
childhood (though my father knew enough Yinglish to name a family cat
Alice Faber                                             faber at haskins.yale.edu
Haskins Laboratories                                  tel: (203) 865-6163 x258
New Haven, CT 06511 USA                                     fax (203) 865-8963

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