Does anybody else besides me have a problem with the following formulation when used in formal writing, (e.g. research papers)?
The difference in x between y and z.
For instance, in a conversation:
"The difference in price between a Chevy and a Ford for a comparable model."
"The difference in intelligence between a donkey and a mule."
As a proofreader in social science, I encounter this formulation more and more in papers. Of course we say this in conversation - but in a research paper or book? (I wonder whether a top publishing house editor would permit this.)
For one thing, "difference" takes "in", but here, also "between". Should "difference" take two different prepositions at the same time in one sentence? Ultimately, I can't think of any situation where such a statement shouldn't be perfectly understandable.
So my objection must be down to elitist thinking (unless I maybe find the formulation in nearly every paragraph of a paper, that is). It just sounds to me like something from a "lower" language register (if I'm allowed to say that today).