Friday, October 31, 2008

Prescriptivists at the train station...

So, I am waiting for the train to take to the office, talking with the "usuals" who take the same train with me. We were, of course, talking about the election. I commented that my philosophy is that there really aren't any "undecideds." If people haven't been able to decide after 2 years, there's no hope. I think these "undecideds" are just vying for attention. I made the comment: "I believe everyone knows whom they're going to vote for." An older guy (CPA, of course) said, "Don't you mean "for whom they're going to vote"? Then it started. The whole prescriptivist/descriptivist argument. I challenged him to check the CMS, and he said his style manual says you can't end sentences with prepositions. Then he said it. "I can't stand this despicable lowering of standards we are seeing in the English language.

Despicable? He was seething. Why does language cause that kind of a reaction?

4 comments:

Cat said...

OH, you know, sometimes people just get fired up about whatever is before them, and later they'll forget they even said anything. Either that or he was so ill-treated by his school teachers over grammar that now he feels all children should be brow-beaten into submission over antiquated grammatical rules.

goofy said...

Good thing he didn't notice your use of "they" with a singular antecedent (everyone)...

Kalleh said...

Oh, yes, goofy; I see your point! BTW, I love your Motivated Grammar site. I've added it to my list.

Yes, Cat, in my heart I know that. It's just that to be criticized in front of people is so demeaning!

zmjezhd said...

The folks at Language Log have discussed this extreme rage against the language and how it's spoken: (link and link).