Tag: John E. McIntyre

December 9, 2016

Prescriptivism and Language Change

Recently, John McIntyre posted a video in which he defended the unetymological use of decimate to the Baltimore Sun’s Facebook page. When he shared it to his own Facebook page, a lively discussion ensued, including this comment: Putting aside all the straw men, the ad absurdums, the ad hominems and the just plain sillies, answer […]

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Usage, Words 6 Replies to “Prescriptivism and Language Change”
September 14, 2015

Overanxious about Ambiguity

As my last post revealed, a lot of people are concerned—or at least pretend to be concerned—about the use of anxious to mean “eager” or “excited”. They claim that since it has multiple meanings, it’s ambiguous, and thus the disparaged “eager” sense should be avoided. But as I said in my last post, it’s not […]

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Usage, Words 21 Replies to “Overanxious about Ambiguity”
June 4, 2012

What Descriptivism Is and Isn’t

A few weeks ago, the New Yorker published what is nominally a review of Henry Hitchings’ book The Language Wars (which I still have not read but have been meaning to) but which was really more of a thinly veiled attack on what its author, Joan Acocella, sees as the moral and intellectual failings of […]

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Descriptivism, Prescriptivism 9 Replies to “What Descriptivism Is and Isn’t”
January 30, 2012

Comprised of Fail

A few days ago on Twitter, John McIntyre wrote, “A reporter has used ‘comprises’ correctly. I feel giddy.” And a couple of weeks ago, Nancy Friedman tweeted, “Just read ‘is comprised of’ in a university’s annual report. I give up.” I’ve heard editors confess that they can never remember how to use comprise correctly and […]

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Usage, Words 13 Replies to “Comprised of Fail”
September 8, 2011

The Value of Prescriptivism

Last week I asked rather skeptically whether prescriptivism had moral worth. John McIntyre was interested by my question and musing in the last paragraph, and he took up the question (quite admirably, as always) and responded with his own thoughts on prescriptivism. What I see is in his post is neither a coherent principle nor […]

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Prescriptivism, Usage 2 Replies to “The Value of Prescriptivism”
August 30, 2011

Does Prescriptivism Have Moral Worth?

I probably shouldn’t be getting into this again, but I think David Bentley Hart’s latest post on language (a follow-up to the one I last wrote about) deserves a response. You see, even though he’s no longer cloaking his peeving with the it’s-just-a-joke-but-no-seriously defense, I think he’s still cloaking his arguments in something else: spurious […]

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Descriptivism, Prescriptivism, Usage 9 Replies to “Does Prescriptivism Have Moral Worth?”
August 7, 2011

It’s just a joke. But no, seriously.

I know I just barely posted about the rhetoric of prescriptivism, but it’s still on my mind, especially after the recent post by David Bentley Hart and the responses by response by John E. McIntyre (here and here) and Robert Lane Greene. I know things are just settling down, but my intent here is not […]

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Prescriptivism 7 Replies to “It’s just a joke. But no, seriously.”
August 2, 2011

Who, That, and the Nature of Bad Rules

A couple of weeks ago the venerable John E. McIntyre blogged about a familiar prescriptive bugbear, the question of that versus who(m). It all started on the blog of the Society for the Promotion of Good Grammar, where a Professor Jacoby, a college English professor, wrote in to share his justification for the rule, which […]

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Prescriptivism, Usage 10 Replies to “Who, That, and the Nature of Bad Rules”
June 28, 2011

Temblor Trouble

Last week’s earthquake in northern Japan reminded me of an interesting pet peeve of a friend of mine: she hates the word temblor. Before she brought it to my attention, it had never really occurred to me to be bothered by it, but now I can’t help but notice it and be annoyed anytime there’s […]

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Usage, Words 8 Replies to “Temblor Trouble”
August 10, 2010

Gray, Grey, and Circular Prescriptions

A few days ago John McIntyre took a whack at the Associated Press Stylebook’s penchant for flat assertions, this time regarding the spelling of gray/grey. McIntyre noted that gray certainly is more common in American English but that grey is not a misspelling. In the comments I mused that perhaps gray is only more common […]

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Descriptivism, Prescriptivism, Words 12 Replies to “Gray, Grey, and Circular Prescriptions”
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