Monday, May 22, 2006

The public speaks on grammar and usage

If you are fascinated, as I am, by the pressures on editors to "adjust" to the public's use of language -- or, if as is the case with many folks, you just want to make your blood boil -- then read Jan Freeman's recent Boston Globe column, "The verdict."

She lays out the public's vote (more than 3,000 votes) on 10 of those gremlins we like to think we slay on the copy desk. Guaranteed you'll find at least one thing to make you mutter.

I'll shake my head at No. 1 ("bored of" - approved by 22 percent), No. 5 (a dangler -- "A mild-mannered horticulturlist ad avid horsewoman, Mrs. Parker's name, nonetheless," ... 36 percent didn't care or didn't see it), No. 8 ("one of those who has" - 75 percent said it was OK).

I'm resigned to the gradual erosion of No. 3 (led to him signing a deal - in 2001, the poll had 80 percent insisting on "his" with the gerund; that's now down to 58 percent).

Yeah, yeah, some of you will say, we don't do "grammar" and "usage" by popularity poll. But we do, and the results are called dictionaries. So while one always takes these things with a certain grain of salt, it's worth paying attention.

Thanks to Nicole at A Capital Idea for the pointer.


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