"far to"...specific spot?

Laurence Horn laurence.horn at YALE.EDU
Tue Dec 31 19:51:47 UTC 2002

At 2:24 PM -0500 12/31/02, sagehen wrote:
>  >On Mon, 30 Dec 2002, sagehen wrote:
>>#While the expression "far to the north (south, east, west)"  is normal
>>#and familiar, "far to (specific spot)", which I ran across in a New
>>#England writer today, looks very odd to me.  Is this a regionalism or
>>I can only get it meaning "the distance from here (or other location) to
>>[specified spot] is far", and at that it seems to be almost negative
>>polarity: e.g. (made-up) "I asked if it was very far to Shrewsbury, and
>>they couldn't tell me."
>>I can't figure more about the construction you're asking about without
>>more context.
>>-- Mark A. Mandel
>Of course I see your problem.  I didn't give enough information to be clear.
>The partial quote: "He was in New York's Washington Heights section, far to
>Manhattan's northern tip, near the George Washington Bridge....".
>Either "far to the north" or "far up toward Manhattan's,&c." would be clear
>at once to me, but this one I stumbled over.
>This is a very able writer, which is why I wondered if it might be a
>regionalism that I simply was unfamiliar with.
>A. Murie
Speaking as someone who grew up in that very region (Fort Washington
Avenue and 163rd Street, echt Washington Heights), this is totally
unfamiliar to me.  I'll wager it's equally so to Mark M, who seems to
share the relevant regional traits.   (I share his judgments on the
negative polarity status of "it's (very) far to X":

If you're in Washington Heights, it's not (very) far to the G. W. Bridge
#If you're in Washington Heights, it's (very) far to the Golden Gate Bridge.

and then there's "it's a fur piece to...", but that thar's a different region.


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