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Of against

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"Of those boards, there are 23 male members and one female ... That is a disgrace. But the discrimination of women goes much deeper than lack of representation on boards."

We've talked before about there being no formal rules for choosing the correct preposition. Mostly, one learns through usage, by paying attention to what people say and write. Some dictionaries provide helpful lists of which preposition goes with which word.

In this case, the writer's use of the wrong preposition changes what he intended to say. He meant that women are the victims of bias; he should have written "discrimination against women." The of suggests he's talking about the discrimination that women possess. Having discrimination ("the power of making fine distinctions") is a good thing. It's why, as the author says elsewhere in his column, that women on the state Board of Environmental Quality would not have approved a hog farm adjacent to the Buffalo River watershed.

The headline on that column was "In praise of women." "In praise from women" or "in praise with women" just wouldn't work.

Where's her proof?

"Academy Award-winning actress Helen Mirren said that given her love of pudding of all kinds, she's thrilled to be named woman of the year by Harvard University's Hasty Pudding theatricals. ... 'As someone who adores pudding in all its manifestations ... suet, Christmas, treacle, bread and butter, Yorkshire, plum, figgy, etc., I am so looking forward to the famous Hasty Pudding.' "

Evidently, the British cover more ground with the word pudding than Americans do. And Miss Mirren didn't even mention blood pudding, another that's popular in her home country. I hope that while she's here, someone introduces her to the Prince of Puddings — banana — but I'm not sure we can count on the Harvards for that.

I've never been clear on what Harvard's favorite pudding — hasty — is exactly. Random House says that in New England, Harvard territory, cornmeal mush is called "hasty pudding."

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