Grammar Rules

Gwynne’s Grammar: The Ultimate Introduction to Grammar and the Writing of Good English? by n. m. gwynne ?knopf, 288 pages, $19.95 One of the first axioms of the field of linguistics is that the rules of usage in any language at any time are wholly conventional. Proper grammar and style have no . . . . Continue Reading »

Weird Al Just Committed the Greatest Word Crime of All

He takes care lest by a slip of the tongue he use the ablative instead of the accusative for ‘among men,’ but is unconcerned that by the fury of his mind he might cast a man out from among men” (Conf. 1.18.29). The particular pet peeves of the self-appointed language police have changed since the fifth century, but St. Augustine would surely recognize the same phenomenon active today. He might conclude, though, that we’ve sunk to a new low: today’s peevers tend not only to lack charity, but to lack even a good grasp of the language they imagine themselves to be defending. Continue Reading »