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      • Native Language:
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    #1

    distinction without a difference

    Dear teachers,

    Would you be kind enough to tell me whether I am right with my interpretation of the expression in bold in the following sentence?

    I said I…. didn’t speak English at all – I only spoke American. He laughed and said it was a distinction without a difference. I said no, the difference was not prodigious but still it was considerable.

    a distinction without a difference = subtle distinction = imaginary difference

    Thank you for your efforts.

    Regards,

    V.

  1. riquecohen's Avatar
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      • Native Language:
      • American English
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      • United States
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      • Brazil

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    #2

    Re: distinction without a difference

    This is a common expression that indicates subtle differences.
    The response, that the difference was not enormous (prodigious) but was still great (considerable,) was in itself a distinction without a difference.
    It is, after all, one language, the primary language of more than 50 countries.

  2. emsr2d2's Avatar
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    #3

    Re: distinction without a difference

    Quote Originally Posted by riquecohen View Post
    It is, after all, one language, the primary language of more than 50 countries.
    That's true, and yet people from different English-speaking countries can't always understand each other easily!

    An oft-used quote: "England and America are two nations divided (or separated?) by a common language." (George Bernard Shaw)

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