Tag: usage

September 23, 2011

It’s Not Wrong, but You Still Shouldn’t Do It

A couple of weeks ago, in my post “The Value of Prescriptivism,” I mentioned some strange reasoning that I wanted to talk about later—the idea that there are many usages that are not technically wrong, but you should still avoid them because other people think they’re wrong. I used the example of a Grammar Girl […]

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Descriptivism, Prescriptivism, Usage, Words 13 Replies to “It’s Not Wrong, but You Still Shouldn’t Do It”
September 16, 2011

What Is a Namesake?

I just came across the sentence “George A. Smith became the namesake for St. George, Utah” while editing. A previous editor had changed it to “In 1861 St. George, Utah, became the namesake of George A. Smith.” Slightly awkward wording aside, I preferred the unedited form. Apparently, though, this is an issue of divided usage, […]

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Words 10 Replies to “What Is a Namesake?”
September 12, 2011

Smelly Grammar

Earlier today on Twitter, Mark Allen posted a link to this column on the Columbia Journalism Review’s website about a few points of usage. It begins with a familiar anecdote about dictionary maker Samuel Johnson and proceeds to analyze the grammar and usage of the exchange between him and an unidentified woman. Pretty quickly, though, […]

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Usage, Words 0 Replies to “Smelly Grammar”
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 11 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”
May 12, 2010

10:30 o’clock

My sister-in-law will soon graduate from high school, and we recently got her graduation announcement in the mail. It was pretty standard stuff—a script font in metallic ink on nice paper—but one small detail caught my eye. It says the commencement exercises will take place at “ten-thirty o’clock.” As far as I can remember, I’ve […]

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Usage 16 Replies to “10:30 o’clock”
February 4, 2008

How I Became a Descriptivist

Believe it or not, I wasn’t always the grammar free-love hippie that I am now. I actually used to be known as quite a grammar nazi. This was back in my early days as an editor (during my first year or two of college) when I was learning lots of rules about grammar and usage […]

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Descriptivism, Editing, Prescriptivism, Usage 7 Replies to “How I Became a Descriptivist”
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