In the above article, posted on February 2 2001, Cecil Adams criticised the “English composition skills” of a correspondent, who wrote this:
“I myself am a Koniag Eskimo and was inflamed to see your ignorant, rude, racist, and idiotic statements about a different race than yours posted on a Web site where people ask questions and want simply the answers, not to read a bunch of redneck crap from some ignorant person who doesn’t take the time . . .”
“On the evidence of Marie’s letter their spelling is OK; it’s their English composition skills that blow. (Different from. “Simply want answers,” not “want simply the answers.” Delete “to read.” Divide run-on sentence.)”
He seems to be unaware that any objection to “different than” has no foundation in contemporary or even historical usage. The OED records it as early as 1644, and major modern writers such as Timothy Findley and Thomas Keneally have used it. It’s sometimes more useful and leads to a cleaner formation than “different from”. If Cecil wants examples, I will be happy to provide them.
It’s also hard to understand the nature of his objection to “…where people ask questions and want simply the answers, not to read a bunch of redneck crap…” There can be no substantial objection to “want simply the answers”, which is easily analysable as “want [simply the answers]” as opposed to “want [the answers and a lot of other things]”. “To read”, while not absolutely necessary, helps the rhythm of the sentence. Marie’s sentence is long, but not so long that it’s possible to get lost inside. Her meaning is perfectly clear and her choice of words is pungent and vivid, so Cecil’s objection seems to be founded on pedantry.