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Associated Press style book finally caves on "hopefully"

M. Spector
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Joined: Feb 19 2005

See below:


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M. Spector
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Joined: Feb 19 2005

Monica Hesse in the Washington Post:

Quote:
The barbarians have done it, finally infiltrated a remaining bastion of order in a linguistic wasteland. They had already taken the Oxford English Dictionary; they had stormed the gates of Webster’s New World College Dictionary, Fourth Edition. They had pummeled American Heritage into submission, though she fought valiantly — she continues to fight! — by including a cautionary italics phrase, “usage problem,” next to the heretical definition.

Then, on Tuesday morning, the venerated AP Stylebook publicly affirmed (via tweet, no less) what it had already told the American Copy Editors Society: It, too, had succumbed. “We now support the modern usage of hopefully,” the tweet said. “It is hoped, we hope.”


Kaitlin McNabb
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Joined: Oct 19 2011

I can take this one, but if irregardless ever makes it into a dictionary or style book, my linguistic snooty pants will be set on fire.


DaveW
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Joined: Dec 24 2008

truth is, usage makes correct.... eventually


Catchfire
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Joined: Apr 16 2003

Yeah, this really exposes the stupidity of prescriptivist stubbornness. Hopefully they've learned their lesson.


milo204
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Joined: Feb 3 2010

i agree...words are just things we use to communicate.  if you look at any language it evolves over time.  think of how people used english a few hundred years ago, i probably wouldn't know what the hell they were talking about!

 


Maysie
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Joined: Apr 21 2005

omg u guyz r so uptite. lolz.


Unionist
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Joined: Dec 11 2005

I'll let you know what I think of this travesty momentarily.

 


Kaitlin McNabb
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Joined: Oct 19 2011

i agree that prescriptivist grammar is ridiculous, especially with antiquated rules like pronoun and number correctness (using he instead of they, blah). But somethings were changed where the meaning just doesn't make any sense -- like the word irregardless. I will never accept.

Also when people qualify absolutes like unique (like most unique) that drives me nuts.


Unionist
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Joined: Dec 11 2005

Kaitlin McNabb wrote:

Also when people qualify absolutes like unique (like most unique) that drives me nuts.

Yeah, some errors are tolerable, but that particular one is really some-of-a-kind.

 


Catchfire
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Joined: Apr 16 2003

Prescriptivism is bad, except for the things I prescribe! :P

I don't think unique is used as an absolute most of the time, with or without modifying adverbs.

True story: the first time I ever "met" the former babble moderator audra (original and best), was on her "other" discussion board/blog, where she castigated me for using "irregardless." I think that's the only time I ever used the word. It was definitely the last (except to relay this anecdote, obv).


Catchfire
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Joined: Apr 16 2003

Quote:
There ain't no school that can teach a fool 

The whom of the me and the I.

There ain't no grammar that equals a hammer 
To nail down a cut-rate wit.

And the verb 'to be' as employed by me 
Is often and lightly split.

A lot of my style (so-called) is vile 
For I learned to write in a bar.

Raymond Chandler: "when I split an infinitive, God damn it, I split it so it will stay split"



Kaitlin McNabb
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Joined: Oct 19 2011

I have used irregardless before too -- back in the day :) -- and then saw that sketch on SNL with jimmy fallon and ben affleck where they parodied Boston ummm, highschool kids and felt like a huge idiot.

I agree with your notes on prescriptivism, I disagree with it, unless I agree with it. Most of the grammar stuff is too old timey, and descriptivist (spelling, my bad) grammar and a better commentary on how communities and cultures use language, except when words are integrated because of misuse and misunderstanding!

Also the word only if frequently used wrong (in terms of meaning in a sentence) and it too drives me nuts.

I think I took on a lot of my linguistic professors annoyances with words and grammar.

Also when people spell a lot as one word.


Sven
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Joined: Jul 22 2005

Catchfire wrote:

Yeah, this really exposes the stupidity of prescriptivist stubbornness. Hopefully they've learned their lesson.

"The normalization of language serves to enlarge its range of communicability over space and time." E.D. Hirsch, The Philosophy of Composition 40 (1977).


Catchfire
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Joined: Apr 16 2003

Sven, you should take that quote to the United Nations and get everyone speaking (the Queen's) English! Then we'd get the best "communicability" ever!

We've been over this before, of course, but 'perfect communication', frequently cited or at least appealed to by prescriptivists, is a myth. It doesn't exist. It's never existed, and it never will. That's not to say normalization forces don't or shouldn't exist, however--but to believe that the operate around a single, dominant locus is not only false, it's impossible.


Sven
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Joined: Jul 22 2005

Catchfire wrote:

...but 'perfect communication', frequently cited or at least appealed to by prescriptivists, is a myth. It doesn't exist. It's never existed, and it never will. That's not to say normalization forces don't or shouldn't exist, however -- but to believe that the operate around a single, dominant locus is not only false, it's impossible.

Making Peace in the Language Wars (a short essay which is well worth reading).


Catchfire
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Joined: Apr 16 2003

Heh. For a (in his heart of hearts a prescriptivist) take on Garner, see this (much, much longer) essay by lexiphile/savant David Foster Wallace: Tense Present. Also available in DFW's breathtaking Consider the Lobster. I guarantee you it is worth the read.

Quote:
The most salient and timely feature of Garner's book is that it's both lexicographical and rhetorical. Its main strategy involves what is known in classical rhetoric as the Ethical Appeal. Here the adjective, derived from the Greek ethos, doesn't mean quite what we usually mean by ethical. But there are affinities. What the Ethical Appeal amounts to is a complex and sophisticated "Trust me." It's the boldest, most ambitious, and also most distinctively American of rhetorical Appeals, because it requires the rhetor to convince us not just of his intellectual acuity or technical competence but of his basic decency and fairness and sensitivity to the audience's own hopes and fears.

These are not qualities one associates with the traditional SNOOT usage-authority, a figure who pretty much instantiates snobbishness and bow-tied anality, and one whose modern image is not improved by stuff like American Heritage Dictionary Distinguished Usage Panelist Morris Bishop's "The arrant solecisms of the ignoramus are here often omitted entirely, `irregardless' of how he may feel about this neglect" or critic John Simon's "The English language is being treated nowadays exactly as slave traders once handled their merchandise...." Compare those lines' authorial personas with Garner's in, e.g., "English usage is so challenging that even experienced writers need guidance now and then."

The thrust here is going to be that A Dictionary of Modern American Usage earns Garner pretty much all the trust his Ethical Appeal asks us for. The book's "feel-good" spirit (in the very best sense of "feel-good") marries rigor and humility in such a way as to allow Garner to be extremely prescriptive without any appearance of evangelism or elitist putdown. This is an extraordinary accomplishment. Understanding why it's basically a rhetorical accomplishment, and why this is both historically significant and (in this reviewer's opinion) politically redemptive, requires a more detailed look at the Usage Wars.

I could give what I consider a strong rebuttal of Garner and DFW if you like, but I've met with far too many grammarians to be too interested in goin through that. As a literary critic, I'm well aware of the grammarian programming that gets installed deep within our intellects from a very early age; so I'm not terribly inclined to going through the horrible process of trying to remove it, or at the very least, point out that it's there.


Ken Burch
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Joined: Feb 26 2005

I've always disliked the phrase used in obituaries "died AFTER a long(or short) struggle with..."

The phrase implies that the former person made a full recover, then ran outside and got hit by a bus or something.

Can't they just say "died OF"?

Also, why does no one ever say that anyone just dies of old age anymore?  It's not like dying that way is a disgrace.  In fact, it should be considered an achievment, given the dangerous world most people live in.


Hoodeet
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Joined: Dec 8 2008

How about "... passed away, a casualty of his/her struggle with a long life".


Ken Burch
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Joined: Feb 26 2005

For myself, I'd liked "passed away while continuing to struggle with reality".


Sven
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Joined: Jul 22 2005

CF, the DFW piece was, indeed, well worth reading.  

He offers many interesting observations which I'd like to think about for a while...and that's exactly what I'm going to do next. 


Kaitlin McNabb
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Joined: Oct 19 2011

kind of related (but not related) the DFW essay on John Updike is among the list of my favourite things I have read. The ending to it made me burst out laughing at a restaurant (mildly embarrassing as I was sitting alone at the bar of save-on meats, but in general not.).

The things DFW could do with language was incredible, leaving us too soon, dying after suicide.


Catchfire
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Joined: Apr 16 2003

Get out and read The Pale King! DFW and taxes! Fun!

Since this is our most recent grammar thread, I'll post this by Steven Pinker (Boo! Hiss!) here:

Quote:
Nature or nurture. Love it or leave it. If it doesn’t fit, you must acquit.

If you didn’t already know that euphonious dichotomies are usually phony dichotomies, you need only check out the latest round in the supposed clash between “prescriptivist” and “descriptivist” theories of language. This pseudo-controversy, a staple of literary magazines for decades, was ginned up again this month by The New Yorker, which has something of a history with the bogus battle. Fifty years ago, the literary critic Dwight Macdonald lambasted the Third Edition ofWebster’s New International Dictionary for aiming to be “a recording instrument rather than … an authority” and insufficiently censuring such usages as “deprecate” for depreciate, “bored” fordisinterested, and “imply” for infer. And in a recent issue, Joan Acocella, the magazine’s dance critic,fired a volley of grapeshot at the Fifth Edition of theAmerican Heritage Dictionary and at a new history of the controversy by the journalist Henry Hitchings, The Language Wars. Acocella’s points were then reiterated this week in a post by Ryan Bloom on the magazine’s Page-Turner blog. The linguistic blogosphere, for its part, has been incredulous that The New Yorker published these “deeply confused” pieces. As Language Log put it, “Either the topic was not felt to be important enough to merit elementary editorial supervision, or there is no one at the magazine with any competence in the area involved.”


Kaitlin McNabb
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Joined: Oct 19 2011

but The Pale King didn't win the Pulitzer Prize -- do I trust it?

And I will defend Steven Pinker (slightly, kind of) -- as a linguistics student I was forced to read him over and over again, I enjoyed reading his thoughts and opinions on language and more so how society uses language. I read the language instinct, and i think referenced it once, it was interesting.

But I bet you're asking "how can a former linguistics student have such poor spelling and high amount of run-on sentences?" well to that I say "I am a terrible typer, MSN did nothing for me as a student and adjectives are the greatest gift to language, disregard all the famous and talented authors that said otherwise."

McNabb out.


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