Arrant Pedantry

About

I’m Jonathon Owen, a linguist, editor, writer, and book designer with a master’s degree in linguistics from Brigham Young University. My thesis explored the effect of copyediting on edited usage. This is where I blog about editing, usage, prescriptivism and descriptivism, and other language issues.

The name of this site comes from one version of a quote often attributed to Winston Churchill. The story goes that a bumbling editor once awkwardly rearranged one of Churchill’s sentences to avoid ending a sentence with a preposition. Churchill responded with an angry but clever marginal note: “This is the type of arrant pedantry up with which I will not put.” The story is bogus, unfortunately, and you can find variations of the purported quote here and good debunkings by Ben Zimmer and Garson O’Toole (aka the Quote Investigator).

But while the story is untrue, like most popular myths, it still communicates something true: sometimes the rules are wrong and can lead us astray. On this blog, I try to make sense of changing or disputed usage with the perspective of modern linguistics. I also sell t-shirts over here.

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