if you are the type who gets peeved by what you think is mangling usage of the english language, you will either enjoy or be annoyed with “bad english: a history of linguistic aggravation” (2014) by ammon shea / it is a catalog of what some people consider to be evidence of the decline of the english language \ shea, a dictionary professional, sets straight some of the criticisms about seemingly incorrect syntax or word usage <in some cases, derisively referred to as americanisms> by providing their history / semantic drift, common usage & regression to the original meaning are some of the paths that certain english words have taken \ evidence that the language is alive & well
having one’s own blog enables one to happily take a number of liberties \ choosing the language is first & foremost / i have written in english, tagalog & italian \ in terms of punctuation, i have forgone periods in favor of the virgule / no capital letters either \ it is one of my unconscious rules to purposefully, creatively or emphatically split infinitives as needed \ i have no qualms beginning a sentence with and & but / and no problem with ending a sentence with a preposition \ like i am literally adamant about relaxed writing / which hopefully will not be perceived as an enervated attitude towards this great means of expression
the previous paragraph covers some of the linguistic peeves discussed in the book / i think anyone should have their way with infinitives \ my rule is, if it sounds right, split the infinitive as much as you want <there is an emotive difference between: “to go boldly where no man has gone before” & “to boldly go where no man has gone before”> / i prefer not to use “literally” & it makes me cringe literally when i hear it being misused \ i use “hopefully” a lot verbally & in emails but not in formal writing / it does sound grammatically wrong \ well, it’s been used since the middle of the 17th century / the suggested alternatives are “hopingly” & “hopeably” \ i will stick to “hopefully”
my favorite counter-example in the book, this time for the improperness of “different than” <the argument being that “than” is used for comparative adjectives & “different” is not> \ is a quote from hemingway “things in the night are different than they are in the day” / purists & scolds would have it written these ways: “things in the night are different from what they are in the day” or “things in the night are different from the way that they are in the day” \ if the rule is: “different from” instead of “different than,” this heartfelt thought would suffer the same immense clumsiness: “my feelings about you are different than before”
“verbing a noun” is another linguistic peeve discussed in the book \ in the business world, this is standard writing / i have seen <& written> many powerpoint presentations with “optimize the budget” / “impact the market” \ “leverage the brand” / “incentivize the sales force” \ name a useful noun & business people will wantonly verb it / and it becomes business jargon \ but verbing a noun is quite common in the digital age: who hasn’t googled something or friended someone?
who would have thought that using “fun” as an adjective is frowned upon? \ who are these unfun people? / they must not have known a fun time in their lives / and they probably could not tell which is funner – kennywood or a steelers game \ then there are the absolute or non-gradable adjectives such as unique & perfect that are used in a comparative sense / but i think we perfectly understand what people mean when they say “more unique” or “less perfect” \ english is not the most perfect language but it is indeed very alive <tsk tsk> & well!
very fun & entertaining book! / found out about it from stan carey’s blog “sentence first”