Pullum at MIT this afternoon

Amy West medievalist at W-STS.COM
Tue Apr 20 14:26:06 UTC 2010

An MIT alum friend forwarded this to me:

---Amy West

>       Subject: TALK:Tuesday 4-20-10 The Land of the Free and "The Elements
>of Style": How False Claims about English Grammar Do Actual Harm
>       The Land of the Free  and  "The Elements of Style": How False Claims
>about English Grammar Do Actual Harm
>       Speaker: Geoffrey K. Pullum
>       Speaker Affiliation: University of Edinburgh
>       Host: Regina Barzilay
>       Host Affiliation: CSAIL
>       Date: 4-20-2010
>       Time: 4:00 PM - 5:00 PM
>       Location: 32 G449
>       Language Log (www.languagelog.org) has fought a long battle against
>       regarding "The Elements of Style" as a respectable work on using the
>       English language.  But if some of what Language Log has published is
>       perhaps somewhat bit hyperbolic (its authors were described in one post
>       as "a shameless, pontificating, ignorant, hypocritical, incompetent,
>       authoritarian pair of old weasels"), there are nonetheless some serious
>       issues involved.  American writing instructors recommend "Elements" to
>       their students despite its being astonishingly outdated; ludicrously
>       idiosyncratic; unfollowable on some points (because of
>       grossly and demonstrably inaccurate on points of syntactic fact; and
>       actually mendacious in some of the ways it tries to make plausible its
>       toxic brew of opinions and proscriptions.  Linguists should
>take seriously
>       the notion that such indefensible bossy advice about grammar
>does actual
>       harm, both by wasting resources and by promoting "nervous
>       Education is not promoted through encouraging educated Americans to
>       believe, falsely, that their command of their own native language is
>       flawed and inadequate.
>       Relevant URL(S):

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

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