Category: Rants

April 24, 2019

That’s My Name; Please Wear It Out

Regular readers of this blog have probably noticed that my name has a slightly unusual spelling: it’s Jonathon rather than Jonathan. If you’ve ever been tempted to joke that my parents spelled my name wrong, please don’t. I’ve been hearing that joke for over thirty years now, and I can promise you that it wasn’t […]

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Rants 12 Replies to “That’s My Name; Please Wear It Out”
June 1, 2017

Cognates, False and Otherwise

A few months ago, I was editing some online German courses, and I came across one of my biggest peeves in discussions of language: false cognates that aren’t. If you’ve ever studied a foreign language, you’ve probably learned about false cognates at some point. According to most language teachers and even many language textbooks, false […]

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Historical linguistics, Rants 4 Replies to “Cognates, False and Otherwise”
November 4, 2015

The Drunk Australian Accent Theory

Last week a story started making the rounds claiming that the Australian accent is the result of an “alcoholic slur” from heavy-drinking early settlers. Here’s the story from the Telegraph, which is where I first saw it. The story has already been debunked by David Crystal and others, but it’s still going strong. The story […]

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Rants, Sociolinguistics 6 Replies to “The Drunk Australian Accent Theory”
February 23, 2015

Fifty Shades of Bad Grammar Advice

A few weeks ago, the folks at the grammar-checking website Grammarly wrote a piece about supposed grammar mistakes in Fifty Shades of Grey. Despite being a runaway hit, the book has frequently been criticized for its terrible prose, and Grammarly apparently saw an opportunity to fix some of the book’s problems (and probably sell its […]

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Editing, Grammar, Punctuation, Rants, Usage 18 Replies to “Fifty Shades of Bad Grammar Advice”
December 24, 2014

Another Day, Another Worthless Grammar Quiz

Yesterday I did something I regret: I clicked on and took one of those stupid quizzes that go around Facebook. It’s called How good is your grammar? and I clicked on it not to find out how good my grammar is, but because I wanted to know what the test-maker thought good grammar was. I […]

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Grammar, Rants 79 Replies to “Another Day, Another Worthless Grammar Quiz”
January 13, 2014

Lynne Truss and Chicken Little

Lynne Truss, author of the bestselling Eats, Shoots & Leaves: The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation, is at it again, crying with her characteristic hyperbole and lack of perspective that the linguistic sky is falling because she got a minor bump on the head. As usual, Truss hides behind the it’s-just-a-joke-but-no-seriously defense. She starts by […]

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Descriptivism, Prescriptivism, Rants 20 Replies to “Lynne Truss and Chicken Little”
March 10, 2009

Reflections on National Grammar Day

I know I’m a week late to the party, but I’ve been thinking a lot about National Grammar Day and want to blog about it anyway. Please forgive me for my untimeliness. First off, I should say for those who don’t know me that I work as a copy editor. I clearly understand the value […]

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Prescriptivism, Rants 2 Replies to “Reflections on National Grammar Day”
January 2, 2007

Editing Chicago

Those who have worked with me before may remember that I was once nicknamed “The Index to The Chicago Manual of Style” (or just “The Index” for short) because I always knew where to find everything that anyone needed to look up. I’ve always been a fan of the big orange book. It is so […]

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Editing, Grammar, Rants 7 Replies to “Editing Chicago”
September 3, 2006

Arrant Pedantry

When you study and work with language for a living, a lot of people naturally assume that you’re some sort of scowling, finger-wagging pedant who is secretly keeping a list of all the grammatical and usage errors they make. It’s difficult to make people understand that you only correct errors when you’re on the clock, […]

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Descriptivism, Prescriptivism, Rants 16 Replies to “Arrant Pedantry”
May 11, 2006

I Am Not an English Major

I am not an English major. It’s true that I used to be—I’m not disputing that. But I’m not anymore, even though my new major doesn’t really sound different. I’m an English language major. There’s a subtle yet profound difference there. Some keen and discerning people recognize that there’s a difference, but even then they […]

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Rants 8 Replies to “I Am Not an English Major”
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