John August is a young screenwriter (NY Times article) who has such an enlightened attitude toward language I strongly suspect he was exposed to a good linguistics course at some point, and he occasionally lets fly at shibboleths in his blog. This is a good thing, because his blog is dedicated to providing useful information to would-be screenwriters, and since everybody wants to be a screenwriter these days, I presume he has a substantial readership who will benefit from his strictures. See, for example, English is not Latin:
In an email a few weeks ago, my former assistant (and alarmingly successful writer/director) Rawson Thurber apologized for ending a sentence with a preposition. I insisted that he was well within his rights to dangle a preposition, split an infinitive, or break pretty much any rule he’d been taught about English – especially the seemingly-arbitrary ones.
Grammarians come in two flavors. A descriptivist studies the way people use a language, while a prescriptivist tries to lay down the rules of a language.
Prescriptivists are assholes. Ignore them.
Now, that’s a bit more forceful than I usually am, but the guy writes movie dialogue, so being forceful comes natural to him, and people who might be bored by a nuanced explanation of the pluses and minuses of each point of view will snap to attention and perhaps be shocked into listening and even thinking.
Another good rant announces that ‘Data’ is singular with a ferocity that frightens even me! Go get ‘em, JA. (And thanks, Bonnie!)