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17th August 2014

Post with 191 notes

Larry Trask on descriptivism

Non-linguists often accuse linguists of maintaining that “any sort of language is equally good”, particularly when we decline to join them in their passionate campaigns against whatever it is that has irked them. But this is misguided. Individual linguists have their own ideas about what constitutes good or appropriate usage in English, just like anybody else — except that the linguists’ views are usually far better informed than other people’s. But there is a big difference between expressing opinions and finding out what the facts are, and it is finding the facts that is the primary task of a linguist. Nobody would attack a botanist merely because that botanist was interested in finding out what plants are like, instead of creating beautiful gardens.

R.L. Trask, Introducing Linguistics (2000)

Tagged: linguisticslanguagedescriptivismprescriptivismEnglish usageLarry Trask

3rd August 2014

Quote with 2 notes

The language of corporations is like a vampire without fangs; it has no venom or bite but you don’t want it hanging off your neck just the same.
— Don Watson, Gobbledygook (2003)

Tagged: bookslanguagevampiresmetaphorscorporatespeakEnglish usagegobbledygookDon Watson

25th July 2014

Link reblogged from The American Heritage® Dictionary Blog with 8 notes

How to Market a Dictionary, 1970s Style →

ahdictionary:

image

To today’s viewer, the short film made in 1973 for an American Heritage Dictionary marketing campaign looks silly and dated (typewriters? secretaries?). But that’s what makes it so much fun to watch. A takeoff on popular TV shows and movies, it was produced by Bill Miller Film and features…

Tagged: languagelexicography1970sdictionaryEnglish usageAmerican Heritage Dictionary

23rd July 2014

Photo with 7 notes

The problem with Weird Al’s ‘Word Crimes’

The problem with Weird Al’s ‘Word Crimes’

Tagged: languagegrammarprescriptivismlinguisticsWord CrimesEnglish usage

3rd April 2014

Link reblogged from Wug Life with 5 notes

Not only . . . but (also) . . . →

wuglife:

Don’t you mean:

Not only is this post quite long and detailed, but it also lacks images…

;-)

I mean exactly what I wrote. :-)

Tagged: writinggrammarstyleconjunctionslanguageEnglishEnglish usageparallelism

6th March 2014

Link reblogged from The Electric Typewriter with 38 notes

Tense Present →

tetw:

by David Foster Wallace

Democracy, English, and the Wars over Usage

I like DFW, but many of his ideas about language usage are deeply and demonstrably misguided. See Language Hat for an informed dressing-down.

Tagged: grammarlanguageEnglish usagewritingDFWprescriptivism

28th February 2014

Quote with 1 note

The dictionary-maker has to record what people say, not what he thinks they can politely say
— H.W. Fowler

Tagged: languagedictionarieslexicographyFowlerH W FowlerEnglish usagesociolinguistics

23rd January 2014

Photo with 12 notes

New on Sentence first: the unsung value of singular themself.

New on Sentence first: the unsung value of singular themself.

Tagged: languagelinguisticsgrammarthemselfdescriptivismpronounsanaphoragenderEnglish usagesingular they

16th January 2014

Post with 3 notes

Linguistic alienation at school

The main impact of Afro-American dialect on education has not been its structural differences from standard English, nor its relative intrinsic usefulness as a medium of thought, but its function as a low-status stigma and its association with a rejected culture. The attitudes of teachers toward this dialect and of dialect speakers toward the teachers’ language have affected the social relationships of children with the schools in such a way as to make education of many children almost impossible. Black children of rural southern background have entered the urban schools to find that nearly everything they said was branded as ‘wrong’. In order to be ‘right’ they had to adopt forms that seemed alien even when they were able to learn how to use them. Their own spontaneous products were punished and treated as worthless, including the only language they knew really well.

Jane Torrey, ‘Illiteracy in the ghetto’, Harvard Educational Review, 40(2), May 1970; republished in Tinker, Tailor: The Myth of Cultural Deprivation (1973), edited by Nell Keddie.

Tagged: languagedialecteducationAAVEprescriptivismJane TorreyEnglish usagesociolinguistics

9th December 2013

Photo with 5 notes

On my blog today: a review of Steven Poole’s new book, Who Touched Base in My Thought Shower? and the “spirit-sapping indignities” of key learnings, synergistic deliverables, and thought leaders who open their kimonos…

On my blog today: a review of Steven Poole’s new book, Who Touched Base in My Thought Shower? and the “spirit-sapping indignities” of key learnings, synergistic deliverables, and thought leaders who open their kimonos

Tagged: booksbook reviewjargonlanguageusageEnglish usageweasel wordsmetaphors