Mine As Well Use Let Alone

In college, I was chatting with my friend online.  I forget what the context was, but perhaps it was something like “I’m not really tired, but it is getting late.  I mine as well go to bed now.”  My friend responded “Do you mean MIGHT as well?”  As most word endings are eaten when speaking (in Philly), “mine” and “might” sound awfully close.  I had been living my whole 21 years thinking the phrase was “mine as well” instead of “might as well”.  Mind blowing.

Why did this come up?  I’m working on writing my dissertation. (A draft is due 11 May … so much work to do still!)  My friend/colleague Hubert stopped by my office the other night around 1:00.  Since I was working and Morten wasn’t ready to join us for a Polish vodka, Hubert grabbed a draft that I threw in the recycling bin and started to read.  “It is often difficult to obtain a mathematical description of the manifold, yet alone to perform computations on it.”  Hubert pointed out that “yet alone” is incorrect in this sentence; it should be “let alone.”  I disagreed with him on this issue, and made some argument that was convincing.  Apparently, I was not too convincing though, as he took it upon himself to look it up online and send me the following email (which he claims only took a half hour to write):

Dear Ms Fazy,

I would like to bring to your attention the following, delicate matter. As you might remember, a subtle issue pertaining the English grammar was timidly raised by my humble person yesterday. Let me remind you that phrase in question was: “let alone”.

Doubtlessly, as you pointed out, the primary meaning of the collocation is (after some random page from google): let alone: let someone or something alone and leave someone or something alone; leave someone or something be to avoid touching, bothering, or communicating with someone or something.

However, there exists an alternative, idiomatic, meaning of the conjugation of interest (after Merriam-Webster): let alone : to say nothing of : not to mention — used especially to emphasize the improbability of a contrasting example

Now, let me prove beyond all doubt that the usage proposed in your doctoral thesis (“yet alone”) is incorrect. For the proof I shall again use a randomly chosen google search result, namely this: http://forum.wordreference.com/showthread.php?t=2083682.

Clearly, the commotion related to the correct usage of this phrase is not a singular case. Apparently a children’s book author was equally nonplussed, which might of slight consolation for you.

However awkward it was for me, I felt obliged to rectify this slight misunderstanding. Rest assured that this delicate issue shall remain private and I have no intention to publicise it (and/or threaten to to so), especially to exert pressure on you in any situation. (BTW. Do you think Gary has more open postdoc positions?)

Finally, I would like to apologize to my English teacher, Małgorzata K*. Contrary to what I suggested yesterday, stating that she was ‘Polish’, I appreciate her work. Taking into account that, at that time, I was primarily interested in kicking ball with my friends (i.e. playing football), I think it is a genuine miracle that I can construct a valid English sentence. On a similar note, I feel obliged to apologize to my other teacher, Simon D*, who is actually English. As a punishment, I decided to write this letter. I trust this is the punishment they would see fit, as they often did in the past.

Summarizing, I hope that, however the situation might be uncomfortable for both of us, your command of the English language as well as the quality of your doctoral thesis has greatly benefited. I would like to point out that it was not my intention to belittle, slight or offend you in any way.

Hoping that my constructive criticism shall not adversarially affect our, so far, amicable relationship, I wish you a nice weekend.

Yours sincerely,
Hubert W*

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6 Responses to “Mine As Well Use Let Alone”

  1. Andreas Mueller Says:

    I knew you had no idea about the English language… -_-
    And you saying that “mine” and “might” sound awefully similar to you definitely explains why I never understood a word you where saying ^^

  2. Terese Fasy Says:

    Brit – I never new you thought it was “mine as well”. Funny! And – I thought “yet alone” was correct. I learned something new today!

    • bfasy Says:

      Well, I only thought “mine as well” was correct for 21 years. I’ve been in-the-know for the past 6. I was thinking that maybe “yet alone” is used in the Philly region. “Let alone” really doesn’t even make sense to me. Speaking of, I think I might write a blog post about the Philly pronunciation of words. I have a lot to say about that.

      • Terese Fasy Says:

        Truthfully, I am still leaning toward “yet alone” – it’s an English thing and will confer with some people I know too! I am still not very convinced.

        I love the idea of the Philly pronunciation of words! You can start with “Iggles” – that’s so Philly accent for “Eagles”.

      • bfasy Says:

        The evidence online for “let alone” is overwhelming. I relented and wrote “let alone” in my dissertation, although I was very sad to change it.

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