July 5, 2018

I Request You to Read This Post

Several weeks ago, I tweeted about a weird construction that I see frequently at work thanks to our project management system. Whenever someone assigns me to a project, I get an email like the one below: I said that the construction sounded ungrammatical to me—you can ask someone to do something or request that they do it, […]

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Grammar, Varieties of English 6 Replies to “I Request You to Read This Post”
May 9, 2018

Is Change Okay or Not?

A few weeks ago I got into a bit of an argument with my coworkers in staff meeting. One of them had asked our editorial interns to do a brief presentation on the that/which rule in our staff meeting, and they did. But one of the interns seemed a little unclear on the rule—she said […]

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Descriptivism, Prescriptivism, Usage 5 Replies to “Is Change Okay or Not?”
March 8, 2018

Skunked Terms and Scorched Earth

A recent Twitter exchange about the term beg the question got me thinking again about the notion of skunked terms. David Ehrlich said that at some point the new sense of beg the question was going to become the correct one, and I said that that point had already come and gone. If you’re not […]

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Usage 8 Replies to “Skunked Terms and Scorched Earth”
January 9, 2018

The Whole Truth

A correspondent named Jitendra Pant recently asked me to elaborate on the etymology of whole: Dear Jonathon, I am wondering why whole has a spelling beginning with ‘w’ and not just ‘hole’. Online checking suggests that ‘hole’ and ‘whole’ did have related origins, but departed around the 15th century, when ‘wh’ was introduced. https://www.etymonline.com/word/whole doesn’t […]

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Historical linguistics One Reply to “The Whole Truth”
November 28, 2017

Two Space or Not Two Space

A friend of mine recently posted on Facebook that you could take the second space after a period away from him when you pry it from his cold, dead fingers. I responded with this image of Ben Wyatt from Parks and Recreation. But I said I’d refrain from sharing my thoughts unless he really wanted […]

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Punctuation 15 Replies to “Two Space or Not Two Space”
November 20, 2017

Book Review: Word by Word

Disclosure: I received a free advance review copy of this book from the publisher, Pantheon Books. I also consider Kory Stamper a friend. A lot of work goes into making a book, from the initial writing and development to editing, copyediting, design and layout, proofreading, and printing. Orders of magnitude more work go into making […]

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Book Reviews 0 Replies to “Book Review: Word by Word
August 23, 2017

Politeness and Pragmatics

On a forum I frequent, a few posters started talking about indirectness and how it can be annoying when a superior—whether a boss or a parent—asks you to do something in an indirect way. My response was popular enough that I thought I might repost it here. What follows is one of the original posts […]

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Pragmatics One Reply to “Politeness and Pragmatics”
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”
May 19, 2017

For Whomever the Bell Tolls

A couple of weeks ago, Ben Yagoda wrote a post on Lingua Franca in which he confessed to being a whomever scold. He took a few newspapers to task for messing up and using whomever where whoever was actually called for, and then he was taken to task himself by Jan Freeman. He said that […]

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Grammar, Usage 5 Replies to “For Whomever the Bell Tolls”
January 30, 2017

Changes at the Arrant Pedantry Store, Plus 20% Off

If you’ve been to the Arrant Pedantry Store recently (and if you haven’t, then why not?), then you may have noticed a change that looks small but is actually pretty big: the ability to edit products. Now, instead of only being able to select from the products I’ve already created, you can make your own. […]

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Uncategorized 0 Replies to “Changes at the Arrant Pedantry Store, Plus 20% Off”
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