In the movie "Once Upon A Time In America", there's a scene in the back of a pub in which the character Deborah says something like: "You can pray here, too. Here or in the synagogue. To God, it's the same difference."

That last phrase ("it's the same difference") sounds a little bit odd to me, although I understand what she's saying. If I would have said/written that piece of dialogue, I would have used "it's the same thing" or "there's no difference". (On the other hand, I'm no literary genious.)
Had it been said in a Swedish conversation, a nit-picker would pick on it. Would that happen in English as well?

jouni maho
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In the movie "Once Upon A Time In America", there's a scene in the back of a pub in which ... it been said in a Swedish conversation, a nit-picker would pick on it. Would that happen in English as well?

It's a colloquialism not to be used in formal writing.
Skitt (in SF Bay Area) http://www.geocities.com/opus731/ I speak English well I learn it from a book!
Manuel (Fawlty Towers)
Okay, so this one time? In band camp? Skitt was all, like:
That last phrase ("it's the same difference") sounds a little ... no difference". (On the other hand, I'm no literary genious.)

It's a colloquialism not to be used in formal writing.

A well-established colloquialism though...slightly more rustic would be "it don't make me no never mind" (where the obligatory triple negative gives some indication of the low level of formality)...I've also heard "what matter does it make?" but that may have been a private joke; it was during a sketch on "The Carol Burnett Show" and I got the impression that some writer had stuck it or something similar into an earlier show and the cast decided to tease him about it..
Then, of course, there's the best-known solecism describing indifference: "I could care less", which means (for anyone who actually uses it) exactly the opposite of what logic would suggest..r
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Okay, so this one time? In band camp? Skitt was all, like:

It's a colloquialism not to be used in formal writing.

A well-established colloquialism though...slightly more rustic would be "it don't make me no never mind" (where the obligatory triple negative ... writer had stuck it or something similar into an earlier show and the cast decided to tease him about it..

The thing that intrigues me with "it's the same difference" is that "difference" (in that particular context) obviously has changed/lost some of its semantics, so that it is used to mean something like "signficance" (or whatever).
Hypothetically, this watered-down (or should that be water-downed?) version of "difference" could be used in other contexts as well. Not being a native English-speaker, I can't think of any, though.
Then, of course, there's the best-known solecism describing indifference: "I could care less", which means (for anyone who actually uses it) exactly the opposite of what logic would suggest..r

In Swedish some people use "Ask me!" as a reply to bothersome questions meaning "I don't know", or "Shut up!", or something appropriately rude.

jouni maho
Okay, so this one time? In band camp? Skitt was ... show and the cast decided to tease him about it..

The thing that intrigues me with "it's the same difference" is that "difference" (in that particular context) obviously has changed/lost ... "difference" could be used in other contexts as well. Not being a native English-speaker, I can't think of any, though.

I thought of a literal meaning of "same difference." "Difference" can mean the result you get when you subtract one number from another. The difference between 60 and 65 is 5. The difference between 80 and 85 is also 5. The difference is the same, or they have the same difference. You could use the idea when two situations both change by a equal amount.
However, I think the juxtaposition of the two opposite ideas is what makes it alluring, as a bit of mild wordplay.
Then, of course, there's the best-known solecism describing indifference: "I ... uses it) exactly the opposite of what logic would suggest..r

In Swedish some people use "Ask me!" as a reply to bothersome questions meaning "I don't know", or "Shut up!", or something appropriately rude.

That one sounds like the "Tell me about it" which means "You don't have to tell me because I know already."

Best Donna Richoux
In the movie "Once Upon A Time In America", there's a scene in the back of a pub in which ... it been said in a Swedish conversation, a nit-picker would pick on it. Would that happen in English as well?

When I hear "same difference", I always think of it being the good, colloquial translation of
"mutatis mutandis"
Is "idiomatic" better than "colloquial"?

Rich Ulrich, (Email Removed)
http://www.pitt.edu/~wpilib/index.html
"Taxes are the price we pay for civilization." Justice Holmes.
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In the movie "Once Upon A Time In America", there's ... pick on it. Would that happen in English as well?

When I hear "same difference", I always think of it being the good, colloquial translation of "mutatis mutandis" Is "idiomatic" better than "colloquial"?

All colloquial speech is idiomatic, but not all idiomatic speech is colloquial: "Oyez! Oyez! Oyez!" is idiomatic English, but is highly formal rather than colloquial.

Raymond S. Wise
Minneapolis, Minnesota USA
E-mail: mplsray @ yahoo . com
Okay, so this one time? In band camp? Rich Ulrich was all, like:
When I hear "same difference", I always think of it being the good, colloquial translation of "mutatis mutandis"

It's more of a reversed version of "plus ca change, plus c'est la meme chose", I think..r
The thing that intrigues me with "it's the same difference" ... being a native English-speaker, I can't think of any, though.

I thought of a literal meaning of "same difference." "Difference" can mean the result you get when you subtract one ... or they have the same difference. You could use the idea when two situations both change by a equal amount.

I get to use that one occasionally in math class. I point it out to my students, who show no sign of amusement.
However, I think the juxtaposition of the two opposite ideas is what makes it alluring, as a bit of mild wordplay.

I have yet another theory the "dethaw" effect, where the speaker combines two ways of saying the same thing, one positive and one negative, and ends up with something that makes no sense. Of course, "same difference" is now a common idiom in the U.S. ...

Jerry Friedman
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