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  • Übersicht


    "know from" (meaning "know about")


    "know from" (meaning "know about")

    From the 23 March edition of the New Yorker:
    Off Stillorgan Road, we turned in at University College Dublin, and the driver got out at a security hut to ask where, if anywhere, at U.C.D. we might find a lacrosse match between England and a team from America. There was no immediate response. Then: "Lacrosse?"
    "Lacrosse," the driver affirmed, in a yes-of-course tone, as if suggesting that Cuchulain himself had played the game.

    Security made calls on a mobile phone. At length, he seemed vindicated. No one else at U.C.D. knew from lacrosse.

    My question is not whether "to know" can be used with "from" ("to know someone from Adam", "to know one's arse from one's elbow", "to know something from experience", etc). What I'm interested in is this particular use of "know from something" to mean "know about something", which I'd never come across before.

    According to the McGraw-Hill Dictionary of American Idioms and Phrasal Verbs, it is used on the eastern seaboard (http://idioms.thefreedictionary.com/know+from ). I was wondering to what extent speakers from other parts of the U.S. would be familiar with this usage. Also, how acceptable is it in "standard" American English?

    The New Yorker is usually beautifully edited, but I'm really not sure about this one. What do AE speakers think?
    Verfasser dulcinea (238640) 16 Apr. 09, 16:52
    You do hear it in AE, most commonly in speakers whose variety of English has been influenced by Yiddish. It's not something I would say coming from the part of the country I come from, but I do run across it in the national media.
    #1Verfasser Amy-MiMi (236989) 16 Apr. 09, 17:05
    You hear (and read) it out here in California on occasion, too. It's not very common, though (IMO).
    #2Verfasserdude16 Apr. 09, 17:56
    I have never seen this usage. I don't doubt the other commenters that it might occur as a localism and based on the publication in which this example appears, maybe it also has some legitimate status as an elevated or obsolete form. But, without the background information, I would have assumed that the speaker/writer was a foreigner who had not yet mastered his prepositions.
    #3Verfasserramp_patch (18111) 16 Apr. 09, 23:48
    2: to be or become cognizant —sometimes used interjectionally with you especially as a filler in informal speech
    — know·able \ˈnō-ə-bəl\ adjective
    — know·er \ˈnō-ər\ noun
    know from : to have knowledge of

    it's in M-W, so it seems pretty legitimate IMO.
    #4Verfasserdude17 Apr. 09, 00:03
    I've heard it, but only used by people from New York or thereabouts. I would have said exactly what Amy did: that it sounds to me like it must have come from Yiddish, which might have a construction similar to 'wissen von.' I would mentally put it in the category with 'on line' (instead of 'in line') -- just a New York thing, and therefore not out of place in the New Yorker magazine.

    It was a fun article, by the way, if a little unbelievable how obsessively competitive people can be about any sport.

    dulcinea, the New Yorker used to be beautifully proofread back in the good old days, but especially the last 10 or 15 years I've had the feeling that its copyediting has gone sort of downhill. But I still enjoy reading it.
    #5Verfasser hm -- us (236141) 17 Apr. 09, 00:57
    I grew up in NY so I'm guilty myself of this usage, but consciously, giving the utterance a somewhat informal, jocular turn. Like Amy-Mimi, I supposed it was a Yiddishism, or (what often amounts to much the same thing) a New Yorkism, but don't have any evidence for that.
    #6Verfasser Martin--cal (272273) 17 Apr. 09, 00:58
    I'm a New Yorker and I'm familiar with this usage. It strikes my ears as New York Jewish, probably deriving from Yiddish, but that's just my sense of it, not based on any specific reference.
    #7Verfasser eric (new york) (63613) 17 Apr. 09, 01:38
    I grew up in Ohio, but have lived since age 18 in DC and Maryland for the last 30+ years. I am completely unfamiliar with this usage. Of course, now that you have called my attention to it, I will probably encounter it all the time.
    #8Verfasser Sharper (238296) 17 Apr. 09, 03:48
    OK, I just looked it up in Weinreich's English-Yiddish Dictionary, and, sure enough, it has (transliterating the Yiddish into German-like spelling):

    Wissn vun = be aware of

    @hm-us and dulcinea: I don't think this is a case of sloppy writing or editing. The observation dulcinea quoted seems to me neatly phrased - giving just the right tone of separation between the knowledgeable out-of-town visitors and the clueless locals.
    #9Verfasser Martin--cal (272273) 17 Apr. 09, 06:20
    Hi, Martin. Thanks; so that does actually make sense, as I guessed.

    I do agree that it's not wrong; sorry if I wasn't clear on that point. What I meant to say was that the New Yorker is sometimes guilty of sloppy editing, but not in this case, only of New Yorkishness.

    To me it was sort of appealing, as if Mr. McPhee had somehow felt himself to be back in Manhattan again, with a taxi driver who was uninformed but good-hearted, willing to give it a shot, like a guy from the deli down the block doing his best to direct a tourist through a surreal landscape of lacrosse fields. The point seemed to me to be that lacrosse was just too exotic for the average guy, too much a boutique sport, whether in Dublin or New York. After all the mock-serious analysis of Ivy League players and their ridiculously high-tech sticks, for me the taxi driver was a refreshing return to earth, to the reality shared by all the people around the world who don't play lacrosse. (-:
    #10Verfasser hm -- us (236141) 17 Apr. 09, 07:11
    When I read "know from" I hear a Brooklyn accent and see an Old World shrug to go with it.

    OT: Interesting. In upstate New York, lacrosse is anything but a boutique sport played by college bound kids. I know it's not popular anywhere else, but we all played it in gym class. Maybe it's different in the city. end OT
    #11Verfasser Selkie (236097) 17 Apr. 09, 07:42
    Excellent; thanks very much, everyone!

    hm, I grew up reading the New Yorker, but was too young to be a very discerning reader 10-15 years ago. I do think it's much more carefully edited than other publications, though – I've never noticed a typo in it, although I have seen occasional instances of grammatical, erm, sketchiness. I would have been surprised if this had turned out to be one of them, but you never know.
    #12Verfasser dulcinea (238640) 17 Apr. 09, 13:27
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