Friday, April 19, 2013

On the other hand ...

You are all no doubt aware of the double linking device - On the one hand ... on the other (hand) ... used to contrast two ideas, for example:
On the one hand we could try that new restaurant on Park Street. On the other, we could just stay at home and order a pizza.
But can we use just on the other hand without the introductory On the one hand? Can we say:
We could try that new restaurant on Park Street. On the other hand we could just stay at home and order a pizza.
I asked some of my students this question the other day. How do you think they answered? How would you answer?

Answer

In the (language) news

In an article at the Chronicle of Higher Education last week, an editor and professor of English bravely admitted that for a number of years she had been "correcting" instances of on the other hand if they did not follow a corresponding on the one hand, thinking that they formed two parts of an obligatory pair. Having done a bit of investigation, she has now come to the conclusion that she had been wrong all along.
At the influential linguistics blog Language Log, Professor Geoffrey K. Pullum congratulated her honesty in coming clean and then showed the results of a little experiment he had run. Looking through articles at the Wall Street Journal, he found that in nearly 90% of cases on the other hand stood alone, with no preceding on the one hand. And as he points out, this was from "copy-edited, published prose by experienced journalists working for a newspaper of national and international prestige".

A couple of points to note

The author of the Chronicle article discovered that on the other hand is popular in both less formal spoken language and in more formal academic writing, often being used in the latter instead of in contrast. So it's a useful little expression to get the hang of.
  • By this time it should be quite clear that using on the other hand on its own is absolutely fine.
  • On the other hand, if you start with on the one hand, then you need to complete the pair.
  • And if you do start with on the one hand, you can drop the hand in the second part, especially when the two parts are quite close. In fact it probably sounds better like that. (As in my opening example)

Postscript

As we've seen, the Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary points out the optional nature of the first part. What's more, my students instinctively knew that it was optional (nothing to do with me, I have to say!). I can't help thinking that this is just another example of ESL/EFL students getting rather better language advice than many native speaker students. Too many schools of English and websites aimed at native speakers irrationally criticise things like the use of the passive, which instead of that in defining relative clauses, and the use of singular they, amongst many others.
The rules EFL/ESL teach are rather closer to normal Standard English, I think.

Links

2 comments:

Prinz said...

Nice to know this. I read on another website, whose authors are professional medical writers, that "on the other hand" should always go with "on the one hand". I was baffled because I had always used "on the other hand" without the introductory "on the one hand".

novak dj said...

Am here to testify what this great spell caster done for me. i never believe in spell casting, until when i was was tempted to try it. i and my wife have been having a lot of problem living together, she will always not make me happy because she have fallen in love with another man outside our relationship, i tried my best to make sure that my wife leave this woman but the more i talk to her the more she makes me fell sad, so my marriage is now leading to divorce because she no longer gives me attention. so with all this pain and agony, i decided to contact this spell caster to see if things can work out between me and my wife again. this spell caster who was a man told me that my wife is really under a great spell that she have been charm by some magic, so he told me that he was going to make all things normal back. he did the spell on my wife and after 5 days my wife changed completely she even apologize with the way she treated me that she was not her self, i really thank this man his name is Dr ose he have bring back my wife back to me i want you all to contact him who are having any problem related to marriage issue and relationship problem he will solve it for you. his email is oseremenspelltemple@gmail.com  he is a man and his  great. wish you good time.
He cast spells for different purposes like
(1) If you want your ex back.
(2) if you always have bad dream
(3) You want to be promoted in your office.
(4) You want women/men to run after you.
(5) If you want a child.
(6) You want to be rich.
(7) You want to tie your husband/wife to be yours forever.
(8) If you need financial assistance.
(9) HIV/AIDS CURE
(10) is the only answer to that your problem of winning the lottery

Contact him today on oseremenspelltemple@gmail.com or whatsapp him on +2348136482342.  https://www.facebook.com/Dr-odion-spell-temple