Feed arrant-pedantry Arrant Pedantry

Arrant Pedantry

Link http://www.arrantpedantry.com/
Feed http://www.arrantpedantry.com/feed
Updated 2019-05-24 00:25
That’s My Name; Please Wear It Out
Regular readers of this blog have probably noticed that my name has a slightly unusual spelling: it’s Jonathon rather than Jonathan. If you’ve ever been tempted to joke that my parents spelled my name wrong, please don’t. I’ve been hearing that joke for over thirty years now, and I can promise you that it wasn’t […]
20 Percent Off at the Arrant Pedantry Store
There’s a sale going on at the Arrant Pedantry Store today and tomorrow only. Just use the code LOVE19 at checkout to get 20 percent off any order—there’s no minimum purchase. And if you haven’t visited the store in a while, you might want to check out some of my new designs. Take a look!
Science and Shit
A recent discussion on Twitter about whether the line “I’m gonna have to science the shit out out of this” was in Andy Weir’s book The Martian or was only found in the movie reminded me of one of my favorite facts: science and shit are related. So let’s science the shit out of this […]
An Etymological Workout
If you’re like me and are still trying to get back into the swing of things after a nice holiday break, you might be having a little trouble focusing on work. You might even be suffering from a mild case of ergophobia, or the fear of work. So here’s some etymology to distract you. Work […]
Black Friday Sale at the Arrant Pedantry Store
It’s Black Friday (ugh), but from now through Sunday, everything at the Arrant Pedantry Store is 15 percent off (yay!). Now’s a great chance to get a word-nerdy shirt for that special someone in your life (or for yourself). Just use the code CYBER18 at checkout. Or if you wait until Monday, you can get […]
100,000 Words Whose Pronunciations Have Changed
We all know that language changes over time, and one of the major components of language change is sound change. Many of the words we use today are pronounced differently than they were in Shakespeare’s or Chaucer’s time. You may have seen articles like this one that list 10 or 15 words whose pronunciations have […]
I Request You to Read This Post
Several weeks ago, I tweeted about a weird construction that I see frequently at work thanks to our project management system. Whenever someone assigns me to a project, I get an email like the one below: I said that the construction sounded ungrammatical to me—you can ask someone to do something or request that they do it, […]
Is Change Okay or Not?
A few weeks ago I got into a bit of an argument with my coworkers in staff meeting. One of them had asked our editorial interns to do a brief presentation on the that/which rule in our staff meeting, and they did. But one of the interns seemed a little unclear on the rule—she said […]
Skunked Terms and Scorched Earth
A recent Twitter exchange about the term beg the question got me thinking again about the notion of skunked terms. David Ehrlich said that at some point the new sense of beg the question was going to become the correct one, and I said that that point had already come and gone. If you’re not […]
The Whole Truth
A correspondent named Jitendra Pant recently asked me to elaborate on the etymology of whole: Dear Jonathon, I am wondering why whole has a spelling beginning with ‘w’ and not just ‘hole’. Online checking suggests that ‘hole’ and ‘whole’ did have related origins, but departed around the 15th century, when ‘wh’ was introduced. https://www.etymonline.com/word/whole doesn’t […]
Two Space or Not Two Space
A friend of mine recently posted on Facebook that you could take the second space after a period away from him when you pry it from his cold, dead fingers. I responded with this image of Ben Wyatt from Parks and Recreation. But I said I’d refrain from sharing my thoughts unless he really wanted […]
Book Review: Word by Word
Disclosure: I received a free advance review copy of this book from the publisher, Pantheon Books. I also consider Kory Stamper a friend. A lot of work goes into making a book, from the initial writing and development to editing, copyediting, design and layout, proofreading, and printing. Orders of magnitude more work go into making […]
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 […]
1