New York Times on the PSAT Glitch

Mon Jun 2 01:25:05 UTC 2003

        I should clarify that, although William Safire on occasion has graciously credited ADS members, I do not in reality expect a newspaper to give credit for the kind of work that Nunberg used.  In any case, my own contributions consisted primarily of literary examples, of the sort that are freely available to anyone who takes the trouble to look for them.  I do note that Nunberg seemingly erred in referring to H.W. Fowler's Modern English Usage, when my example was from The King's English, by both of the Fowlers.  It is possible, of course, that Nunberg (or his source) does have an example from Modern English Usage.

        I understand that the editors thought that there would be more interest in a political take on the dispute.  It is my belief that they are mistaken.  There is a significant percentage of the newspaper-reading public that takes a real interest in disputes over English usage.  I doubt if a specifically linguistic take would fly, but a middlebrow account of the rule's failure even on prescriptivist terms (the rule is not accepted by better writers or by most respected authorities on usage) would certainly find an audience.

John Baker

More information about the Ads-l mailing list