Out of the woodwork

March 04, 2013|By John E. McIntyre | The Baltimore Sun

It was to be expected, on National Grammar Day, despite the cautions from Kory Stamper and others, that the peeververein would make their voices heard.

A reader signed on as "diteora" at the post "Good grammar doesn't entitle you to be smug" asks for a reliable prescriptivist blog, because this one and all others corrupted by the rubbish of descriptivism are unreliable. Then the Aha! Gotcha! sentence: "If all these grammatical rules are bogus Mr. McIntyre, then why do you and all your descriptive allies stringently adhere to them?"

Perhaps diteora is unaware that this accusation of hypocrisy is a cliche tiresomely leveled at the linguists at  Language Log and elsewhere. There is nothing hypocritical about adopting the register of grammar, usage, and diction that is appropriate to the subject, the occasion, and the audience. There is nothing odd about academics or editors using standard formal written English. The oddity lies in those who imagine that standard formal written English is the only acceptable dialect.

And if diteora were actually paying attention to what I write here, it would be clear that I do not, in fact, adhere, to the bogus rules I denounce. I do not honor the stranded-preposition superstition or the split-infinitive and split-verb nonsense. I ignore the pointless over/more than distinction beloved of my fellow journalists. There are prescriptivists alive today who continue to insist on bogus rules exploded by H.W. Fowler nearly a century ago, and there is no point to upholding them today.

Mr. Mcintyre:

I’m desperately trying to find a blog that encourages prescriptive grammar, (does one exist?) because I’m quite bored, and annoyed, with the descriptive approach to grammar and the endless blogs denunciating prescriptivism or anything that might be considered “proper grammar”.

These perpetual and tautological blogs and books by nontraditional grammarians, lexicologists and linguists, (they’re all descriptivists) who spew out their opinions about grammar and word usage are so imitative that they’ve become negligible.

 If all these grammatical rules are bogus Mr. Mcintyre, then why do you and all your descriptive allies stringently adhere to them? You find these archaic rules tedious, but I find your denunciations just as tedious.

I enthusiastically prefer to speak and write properly and insist on being corrected when I err. 

You argue with powerful ammunition, (syntactic grammar with a challenging vocabulary) relinquish those weapons and you lose this endless war on grammar; and that is the height of your hypocrisy.

- See more at: http://www.baltimoresun.com/news/language-blog/bal-good-grammar-doesnt-entitle-you-to-be-smug-20130303,0,481215.story#sthash.LPe6EbED.dpuf

Mr. Mcintyre:

I’m desperately trying to find a blog that encourages prescriptive grammar, (does one exist?) because I’m quite bored, and annoyed, with the descriptive approach to grammar and the endless blogs denunciating prescriptivism or anything that might be considered “proper grammar”.

These perpetual and tautological blogs and books by nontraditional grammarians, lexicologists and linguists, (they’re all descriptivists) who spew out their opinions about grammar and word usage are so imitative that they’ve become negligible.

 If all these grammatical rules are bogus Mr. Mcintyre, then why do you and all your descriptive allies stringently adhere to them? You find these archaic rules tedious, but I find your denunciations just as tedious.

I enthusiastically prefer to speak and write properly and insist on being corrected when I err. 

You argue with powerful ammunition, (syntactic grammar with a challenging vocabulary) relinquish those weapons and you lose this endless war on grammar; and that is the height of your hypocrisy.

- See more at: http://www.baltimoresun.com/news/language-blog/bal-good-grammar-doesnt-entitle-you-to-be-smug-20130303,0,481215.story#sthash.LPe6EbED.dpuf

Mr. Mcintyre:

I’m desperately trying to find a blog that encourages prescriptive grammar, (does one exist?) because I’m quite bored, and annoyed, with the descriptive approach to grammar and the endless blogs denunciating prescriptivism or anything that might be considered “proper grammar”.

These perpetual and tautological blogs and books by nontraditional grammarians, lexicologists and linguists, (they’re all descriptivists) who spew out their opinions about grammar and word usage are so imitative that they’ve become negligible.

 If all these grammatical rules are bogus Mr. Mcintyre, then why do you and all your descriptive allies stringently adhere to them? You find these archaic rules tedious, but I find your denunciations just as tedious.

I enthusiastically prefer to speak and write properly and insist on being corrected when I err. 

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