Arrant Pedantry


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 a debunking by Ben Zimmer here.

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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