Burchfield's Fowler

Arnold Zwicky zwicky at STANFORD.EDU
Sun Aug 9 17:57:01 UTC 2009

On Aug 9, 2009, at 10:35 AM, George Thompson wrote:

> This anecdote is prompted by the following part of AZ's comment and
> link:
> it became part of the peevelore, to the extent that you felt
>> that MWDEU had to warn readers that some people view the usage as a
>> straightforward error, so that you might want to be cautious about
>> using it.  (Crazies win, as i said in a Language Log posting a while
>> back:
>>   AZ, 5/13/08: Crazies win:
>>  http://languagelog.ldc.upenn.edu/nll/?p=123  )
> I worked as a reference librarian at a university library.  One day
> I took a phonecall from a woman asking whether her status as an
> "alumni" of the university gave her a right to enter the library.
> Speaking in my own natural dialect, and not intending to correct
> her, I said, "As an alumna of the university...."  She burst out,
> "Oh, is that the correct way of saying it, I'm never sure".  I said,
> when we are speaking Latin, we should speak it correctly, and in
> Latin "alumna" is correct, but in as much as we were speaking in
> English, and most college graduates speak of themselves as "alumni",
> then despite my own eccentricity, "alumni" is correct.

on "alum" words, check out:

as George notes in his "alum" anecdote, echoing my "Crazies win"
posting, there are many points on which you can't satisfy everyone
with a strong opinion, because different people have incompatible
strong opinions.


The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

More information about the Ads-l mailing list