I CAN’T RELATE TO THE GOVERNMENT’S ARGUMENT.” RMB on her You Know What I Meant blog, began a post: “First let me admit that one of my current crusades is to stamp out the phrase “relate to.” Particularly in literature classes, its use is pervasive and daunting: “I can relate to Hamlet.” “The Canterbury Tales is hard to relate to because it’s written in Old [sic] English.” “I can relate to the Puritans but they were wrong about witches.” “Beowulf brags too much to be relatable.” Oh, please!”

I commented: This use of “relate to” was not invented by the current generation of students. I remember a lawyer friend of mine in the 1970’s laughing about hearing a lawyer arguing in a federal court of appeals say: “I can’t relate to the government’s argument.”

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