Mark A Mandel
mam at THEWORLD.COM
Fri Dec 27 23:04:05 UTC 2002
On Fri, 27 Dec 2002, Philip Trauring wrote:
#I think there are two different constructions here. One is 'know
#from' and the other is 'know X from Y'.
#Examples such as 'he doesn't know his ass from his elbow' are also
#idioms, whose constructions I would argue are not easily tracked and
#frequently flaunt normal grammatical rules. Does anyone have an
#example of this 'know X from Y' construction that isn't an insult?
This is made-up but imho plausible, and deprecatory but not just an
insult, but rather contentful:
You can't hire her as our webmaster! Why, she doesn't
(Neither do I, but I'm not applying for a job that requires it.)
So I don't think 'know X from Y' is an idiom. It's a construction
meaning 'know / recognize / understand the difference between X and Y'.
"Doesn't know shit from shinola" / "his ass from a hole in the ground"
are idioms built on literal, grammatically correct uses of the
"Know from X" is a different breed of equine entirely.
-- Mark A. Mandel
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