Achingly astute: my latest linguistic hero

First, I must tip my hat to my Al Jazeera Engish colleague Bernard Smith for emailing this link out to our whole newsroom.  I hope everyone reads it.

Until today I’d never heard of Jeremy Butterfield.  He is (seeing as you asked) the editor of Fowler’s Dictionary of Modern English Usage, and has written a brilliant Comment is Free article in today’s Guardian newspaper:

Jeremy is, I believe, a little bit like me.  Slightly pedantic, occasionally furious, but always passionate about defending the English language.  The examples he gives in his article are things I see creeping into journalism all the time – even TV journalism, which is supposed to be all about simplicity and speaking normally.

Jeremy – whether it’s the linguist’s hat or tinfoil hat you occasionally forget to don*, I’m glad you do.  English will of course evolve, as it must.  But isn’t it equally, if not more important to use the language we already have and to use it properly?

Anything less would surely be ‘unacceptable’!

*(there’s one right there… who dons anything anymore?)

Achingly astute: my latest linguistic hero

2 thoughts on “Achingly astute: my latest linguistic hero

  1. Tom Thomson says:

    I suspect that whether “don” (and “doff”) are obsolete depends on where you are. They certainly aren’t obsolete around here, although they are rarely used. A lot of people still read books written about 50 years ago, for example several of wodehouse later works, and are therefor familiar with these verbs.


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