Mighty Red Pen

December 2, 2010

Keeping the Four Grammarians at bay

Filed under: Grammar goddess,Wordsworthy — mighty red pen @ 7:23 pm
Tags: ,

I’d like to direct your attention to a post by John McIntyre over at You Don’t Say, “Don’t Let’s Be Beastly to the Barbarians.” In it, he addresses a topic I’ve touched on before: whether the misuse of language signals the approach of the Four Grammarians of the Apostrophocalypse. He doesn’t think so:

The people whose usages you deplore may be slovenly writers with questionable judgment, but they are not a threat to the language. Those of us who get our bread as editors need to keep this in mind. . . .

Take one of those deep, cleansing breaths. There is a great quantity of substandard prose out there that requires your attention. And there are choices by able writers that are open to question and subject to discussion. If you want to do a favor to Civilization, do your job without losing your head.

As you know, I share the point of view that it’s not necessary to rail heatedly against misuse of language, nor is it necessary to belittle others who have made a mistake. Language is flexible, and it grows and changes. For residents of Wordnerdlandia, discussions about language and usage should be fun and joyful, not a vehicle for showing your superiority over others.

Read the whole post. And then, as a bonus, read what happens when a colleague dares to submit a headline that uses the phrase “′tis the season.” A duel ensues. No joke.

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1 Comment »

  1. “For residents of Wordnerdlandia, discussions about language and usage should be fun and joyful, not a vehicle for showing your superiority over others.”

    Amen! Hear, hear! :)

    Comment by Jessica — December 14, 2010 @ 11:25 pm | Reply


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