Sunday, 13 September 2009

'bored of' or 'bored with'?

I was working with a young student recently (aged about 10) and was surprised to hear him say he was bored of something.

I suggested he might consider changing to bored with, as that is a more adult way of expressing the concept. I thought bored of might be one of the stages young language learners go through on the way to developing a mature vocabulary. But he, confident and highly intelligent, was adamant that he wouldn't be changing anytime soon, because his was the correct way to say it.

I pushed the discussion to the back of my mind, waiting to discover how often I would hear bored with.

Today it was in our local broadsheet newspaper, The Sunday Age, in a quote from fashion designer Wayne Cooper. He said, 'People are bored of the recession.'

A glance around the internet came up with a discussion at Language Log where these two phrases were discussed in 2004. The author pointed out that
It's not totally impossible, though [that bored of might overtake bored with] -- "bored of it" now gets 25,400 ghits, whereas "bored with it" gets 48,500 , barely 1.9 times more.
A search today on Google found 7,351 for 'bored+of' and 6889 for 'bored+with'. (I put in the plus-sign because simply searching 'bored of' found lots of sites with the word bored in different combinations.)

The Language Log post pointed me to an article in Humanising Language Teaching where these phrases are discussed in the context of the bigger picture of how language changes over time. Most interesting.

No comments: