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Everyone’s position on linguistic correctness

AKMA points to two snippets from Stephen Fry on grammatical purity. The second snippet is classic Laurie and Fry.

AKMA expresses his usual admirable inclusiveness: He thinks grammatical correctness is worth striving for, but also acknowledges that language can usefully overflow its bounds. I’m with him. I was disappointed to hear Obama use the phrase “between her and meI,” and at his recent press conference to use “between” instead of “among” when referring to relationships of three or more. But I’m not a stickler. Why, I’ve recently become willing to blatantly split an infinitive or two.

When it comes to the sanctity of the rules of language, doesn’t everyone have the same position? While we think people ought to follow the grammatical rules that matter, we graciously condescend to permit others to make fools of themselves in public, unless they break rules the violation of which force a “Tut tut” from our lips. The difference is only over which particular rules we think are worth following, ignoring, or tut-tutting.

Or, to complete Henry Higgins’ thought: “Oh, why cahn’t the English … learn … to … speak … like me.” Pardon me: “…as I do.”

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