Year: 2011

December 23, 2011

Which Hunting

I meant to blog about this several weeks ago, when the topic came up in my corpus linguistics class from Mark Davies, but I didn’t have time then. And I know the that/which distinction has been done to death, but I thought this was an interesting look at the issue that I hadn’t seen before. […]

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Editing, Usage, Words 3 Replies to “Which Hunting”
December 6, 2011

Distinctions, Useful and Otherwise

In a recent New York Times video interview, Steven Pinker touched on the topic of language change, saying, “I think that we do sometimes lose distinctions that it would be nice to preserve—disinterested to mean ‘impartial’ as opposed to ‘bored’, for example.” He goes on to make the point that language does not degenerate, because […]

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Usage, Words 10 Replies to “Distinctions, Useful and Otherwise”
November 6, 2011

Till Kingdom Come

The other day on Twitter, Bryan A. Garner posted, “May I ask a favor? Would all who read this please use the prep. ‘till’ in a tweet? Not till then will we start getting people used to it.” I didn’t help out, partly because I hate pleas of the “Repost this if you agree!” variety […]

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Words 16 Replies to “Till Kingdom Come”
November 1, 2011

Want to Help a Grad Student with His Research?

As you may know, I’m a grad student currently working on my master’s thesis. I’m examining usage changes made by copy editors and how they shape standard written English. I’ve been able to get my hands on about two dozen edited manuscripts, marked with Word’s Track Changes feature, but the editors are student interns here […]

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Uncategorized 0 Replies to “Want to Help a Grad Student with His Research?”
October 29, 2011

Whose Pronoun Is That?

In my last post I touched on the fact that whose as a relative possessive adjective referring to inanimate objects feels a little strange to some people. In a submission for the topic suggestion contest, Jake asked about the use of that with animate referents (“The woman that was in the car”) and then said, […]

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Historical linguistics, Usage, Words 10 Replies to “Whose Pronoun Is That?”
October 29, 2011

Free Shipping on Shirts Today and Tomorrow

Sorry if you’ve already seen this on Twitter or Facebook, but you can get free shipping (up to $9.50 value) on all orders from the Arrant Pedantry store today and tomorrow. Use the code witchinghour during checkout. There’s no minimum order requirement, so the coupon is good whether you buy one shirt or a dozen […]

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Uncategorized One Reply to “Free Shipping on Shirts Today and Tomorrow”
October 19, 2011

Rules, Regularity, and Relative Pronouns

The other day I was thinking about relative pronouns and how they get so much attention from usage commentators, and I decided I should write a post about them. I was beaten to the punch by Stan Carey, but that’s okay, because I think I’m going to take it in a somewhat different direction. (And […]

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Descriptivism, Prescriptivism, Usage, Words 9 Replies to “Rules, Regularity, and Relative Pronouns”
October 17, 2011

They and the Gender-Neutral Pronoun Dilemma

A few weeks ago, as a submission for my topic contest, Bob Scopatz suggested I tackle the issue of gender-neutral pronouns in English. In his comment he said, “I dislike alternating between ‘he’ and ‘she’. I despise all variants of ‘he/she’, ‘s/he’, etc. I know that I should not use ‘they’, but it feels closest […]

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Usage, Words 22 Replies to “They and the Gender-Neutral Pronoun Dilemma”
October 17, 2011

Please Vote for Me!

My blog is currently in fourth place in Grammar.net’s Best Grammar Blog of 2011 contest. Please help me get into the top three by voting for Arrant Pedantry! Voting ends today. No registration required; you just have to complete a CAPTCHA. Go here to vote.

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Uncategorized 0 Replies to “Please Vote for Me!”
October 6, 2011

Continua, Planes, and False Dichotomies

On Twitter, Erin Brenner asked, “How about a post on prescriptivism/descriptivism as a continuum rather than two sides? Why does it have to be either/or?” It’s a great question, and I firmly believe that it’s not an either-or choice. However, I don’t actually agree that prescriptivism and descriptivism occupy different points on a continuum, so […]

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Descriptivism, Prescriptivism 23 Replies to “Continua, Planes, and False Dichotomies”
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