I wrote a piece about the idea that some people believe that language is logical. A fact they use to try to bash others about their usage and feel superior at the same time. Fortunately they are almost always wrong.
One of my favorite experts on linguistics is the hilarious John McWhorter. He wrote an excellent piece in the New York times noting that grammar rules are often just a matter of fashion. The article is great, but what struck me were the comments. People’s prejudices about language and their sense of “correctness” seem almost as powerful as their desire to not actually do any research on the subject. After reading the PHD holder and repsected linguist’s article, we have comments like these:
j. p. ward the netherlands
Oh you would would you? That’s lovely! Let me have a look round and see what things I might like there to be more of and less of and just make a pronouncement about it! This is like reading an article on why the current England football lack the ability to win games and why this is unlikely to change and posting: “I would like to see a lot more goals for us, and no goals against us”. Or perhaps reading an article on the complex issue of crime and writing “I would like there to be less crime and more cake! I like cake”
Another commentaor writes:
Tulley Houston, TX
Edith W. California
Carl Moore Barbados
What do these comments have in common? They all have absolutely nothing to do with the article above. It’s almost like how some flowers have patterns that can only be seen by insects able to see ultraviolet colurs, articles about language use have clearly have messages only visible to language mavens saying “COME AND MOAN ABOUT THE ENGLISH YOU DON’T LIKE”.