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Updated 2017-09-21 01:38
Politeness and Pragmatics
On a forum I frequent, a few posters started talking about indirectness and how it can be annoying when a superior—whether a boss or a parent—asks you to do something in an indirect way. My response was popular enough that I thought I might repost it here. What follows is one of the original posts […]
Cognates, False and Otherwise
A few months ago, I was editing some online German courses, and I came across one of my biggest peeves in discussions of language: false cognates that aren’t. If you’ve ever studied a foreign language, you’ve probably learned about false cognates at some point. According to most language teachers and even many language textbooks, false […]
For Whomever the Bell Tolls
A couple of weeks ago, Ben Yagoda wrote a post on Lingua Franca in which he confessed to being a whomever scold. He took a few newspapers to task for messing up and using whomever where whoever was actually called for, and then he was taken to task himself by Jan Freeman. He said that […]
Changes at the Arrant Pedantry Store, Plus 20% Off
If you’ve been to the Arrant Pedantry Store recently (and if you haven’t, then why not?), then you may have noticed a change that looks small but is actually pretty big: the ability to edit products. Now, instead of only being able to select from the products I’ve already created, you can make your own. […]
Prescriptivism and Language Change
Recently, John McIntyre posted a video in which he defended the unetymological use of decimate to the Baltimore Sun’s Facebook page. When he shared it to his own Facebook page, a lively discussion ensued, including this comment: Putting aside all the straw men, the ad absurdums, the ad hominems and the just plain sillies, answer […]
15% Off Plus Free Shipping
I should have posted this sooner, but better late than never. Spreadshirt, the home of the Arrant Pedantry Store, currently has a promotion for 15% off plus free shipping, and it ends tonight. If you’ve been thinking of getting one of the new We Can Even! shirts for that special person in your life for […]
Whence Did They Come?
In a recent episode of Slate’s Lexicon Valley podcast, John McWhorter discussed the history of English personal pronouns. Why don’t we use ye or thee and thou anymore? What’s the deal with using they as a gender-neutral singular pronoun? And where do they and she come from? The first half, on the loss of ye […]
Stupidity on Singular They
A few weeks ago, the National Review published a singularly stupid article on singular they. It’s wrong from literally the first sentence, in which the author, Josh Gelernter, says that “this week, the 127-year-old American Dialect Society voted the plural pronoun ‘they,’ used as a singular pronoun, their Word of the Year.” It isn’t from […]
New Shirt Design: We Can Even!
I’m pleased to announce a new T-shirt design in my shop: We Can Even! It’s a classic design updated for this modern era of being unable to even. And through October 25, you can get free shipping on all orders in the Arrant Pedantry Store when you use the coupon code JUST4YOU at checkout.
Book Review: What the F
Disclosure: I received a free advance review copy of this book from the publisher, Basic Books. I was a little nervous when I was asked to review Benjamin K. Bergen’s new book, What the F: What Swearing Reveals About Our Language, Our Brains, and Ourselves. Unlike many of my linguist and editor friends, I’m not […]
To Boldly Split Infinitives
Today is the fiftieth anniversary of the first airing of Star Trek, so I thought it was a good opportunity to talk about split infinitives. (So did Merriam-Webster, which beat me to the punch.) If you’re unfamiliar with split infinitives or have thankfully managed to forget what they are since your high school days, it’s […]
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