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By convention, complementary words like here/there and this/that are relative in their usage, i.e., their meaning depends on which side of the conversation they fall into.


  • To introduce oneself on a telephone, it is common to say "This is John."
  • On the other hand, to ask someone on the other end of the line about their identity, the usage is still "Who's this?" or something like "Is this John?" when in doubt.
  • Combine the above two into a single statement, and hell breaks loose! "Hi! This is John. Who's this?" is just so ridiculous a statement!

See also: how-to-answer-is-this-john …

How did the word this come to be used to refer to the both sides of a telephonic conversation?

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closed as unclear what you're asking by RegDwigнt Jan 12 at 10:56

Please clarify your specific problem or add additional details to highlight exactly what you need. As it's currently written, it’s hard to tell exactly what you're asking. See the How to Ask page for help clarifying this question.If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

A few notes in random order. 1) Of course it is right and not a corruption. 2) "An accepted corruption", too, is always right. That's what accepted means, and that's how language works. Any language, not just English. 3) That page you linked to is quite awful. The people who compiled it don't seem to know the first thing about English, or about the meaning of the word "idiosyncrasy" for that matter. 4) Idiosyncrasies do not plague a language. In summary, this post comes off as peeving disguised as a question. You could cut it by half and have an interesting question, though. –  RegDwigнt Jan 12 at 11:09
@RegDwigнt: Thanks! I've cut the question to what I intended to ask. If you still thinks it comes off as a peeving, could you help rephrase it into an interesting one? –  SNag Jan 12 at 11:23