The endless march of the mavens

Short Post.

I wrote a piece about the idea that some people believe that language is logical.  A fact they use to try to bash others about their usage and feel superior at the same time.  Fortunately they are almost always wrong. 

One of my favorite experts on linguistics is the hilarious John McWhorter.  He wrote an excellent piece in the New York times noting that grammar rules are often just a matter of fashion.  The article is great, but what struck me were the comments.  People’s prejudices about language and their sense of  “correctness” seem almost as powerful as their desire to not actually do any research on the subject.  After reading the  PHD holder and repsected linguist’s article, we have comments like these:

  • j. p. ward
  • the netherlands
  • I would like to see and hear a lot more use of “whom” instead of “who” in e.g. “the person whom I spoke to”, and no use at all of sentences like “he was very kind to my wife and I

    Oh you would would you?  That’s lovely!  Let me have a look round and see what things I might like there to be more of and less of and just make a pronouncement about it!  This is like reading an article on why the current England football lack the ability to win games and why this is unlikely to change and posting:  “I would like to see a lot more goals for us, and no goals against us”.  Or perhaps reading an article on the complex issue of crime and writing “I would like there to be less crime and more cake!  I like cake”

    Another  commentaor writes:

  • Tulley
  • Houston, TX
  • Proper pronunciation matters too. I’m sure I’m not the only American who winced every time Mr. President from Texas pronounced nuclear “new-kyew-lar”.


  • Edith W.
  • California
  • Flout and flaunt. NOT synonyms.


  • Carl Moore
  • Barbados
  • … and what is this “one-year anniversary” I hear from you Americans?

    Whatever happened to FIRST anniversary? 

    What do these comments have in common?  They all have absolutely nothing to do with the article above.  It’s almost like how some flowers have patterns that can only be seen by insects able to see ultraviolet colurs, articles about language use have clearly have messages only visible to language mavens saying “COME AND MOAN ABOUT THE ENGLISH YOU DON’T LIKE”.

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