Amy West medievalist at W-STS.COM
Tue Feb 23 14:12:54 UTC 2010

Here's what I like about MWDEU:

It will explain what the ruckus is about. It will describe the
prescriptive rule, explain what the prescriptivists are complaining
about, give background on the rule/what the prescriptivists have
said, and then give actual printed examples of the use, describe
what's going on, and then will close with advice/guidance to the user.

That's in the big version. There is a pocket version which leaves out
the quotes and extended discussion, but still explains the
prescriptivist stance and describes what people actually do.

It really is quite fabulous. And I'm always thrilled when Arnold says
"use it!" because I knew the editor was smart: Arnold's seal of
approval confirms it. (Because Arnold's smart, too. My logic is
impeccable.) (I like to think of it as the ADS version of the Good
Housekeeping Seal of Approval.)

Having said that, I think I'm going to make the pocket version a
required purchase for my next comp. class to balance out the
"glossary of usage" in Diana Hacker's _A Writer's Reference_ that we
require of all the comp. classes on our campus. She toes an even more
conservative line on some things than the AHD Usage Panel.

---Amy West

>Date:    Sun, 21 Feb 2010 16:25:23 -0800
>From:    Arnold Zwicky <zwicky at STANFORD.EDU>
>Subject: MWDEU
>some people have wondered about the status of MWDEU, in particular how
>it relates to "prescriptive grammar".
>in my experience, people who identify themselves as prescriptive
>grammarians deplore MWDEU, dismissing it as the work of "permissive",
>"anything-goes" linguists, who fail to excoriate usages that the
>prescriptive grammarians in question do.  (i simplify somewhat; i am
>in a somewhat dark mood.)

The American Dialect Society -

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