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Trusted local news leader for Kingman, Arizona & Mohave County
11:53 PM Tue, Nov. 13th

Nothing historical about this word.

"It's really a historical moment when I don't choose to read a history book."

"It's an historical moment when a history book isn't available."

Which of the above is correct?

This is typical of the reason the English (or perhaps the American) language is so hard for a foreigner to learn well.

When I was stationed in Korea, I had a guy in my squad who was born and raised in Germany.

I only knew this when I looked at his records in the Unit Personnel Office, because the young man spoke perfect English/American. He used contractions, slang, typical inflections, the whole gamut of our way of speaking.

So one day I asked him how he'd mastered the language so well.

He repiied, saying, "I studied the language more than the other students around me, and I'd listen to the American soldiers when they were on pass in my town."

We look at a Spanish language school text book, study from it, even pick up various slang terms and nuances, then we go to downtown Mexico City, we're instantly recognized for what we are - North Americans.

Yet, having listened to and picking up a smattering of German during my years there, the bartender at the local gasthaus (even if he hadn't known me) would have marked me for an "Ami" the second I asked for a beer in his language.

Goes to show, you can learn the language "off the street", or in the classroom, but unless you expose yourself to both modes, you'll never be picked for a native.

Then to discover that our language isn't 'cut and dried', just adds to the frustration, as in the samples listed above.

Which is correct?

According to Webster's dictionary. . . . . . both are.

In the immortal words of John Wayne, "Choose your poison, Pilgrim."