Here’s the second paragraph of a NY Times Magazine article by Rob Hoerburger about singer Shelby Lynne:
“Do you know the difference between the words ‘bringing’ and ‘taking’?” she practically whispered into my sleeve, as if not to embarrass me. “Because you just used one of them incorrectly.” I do know the difference, and though I couldn’t remember what I said, I agreed with her anyway, dizzied by the sudden altitude of the conversation. Lynne then proceeded to conduct a sobering mini-symposium on grammar: subjective and objective cases; “begging” versus “raising” the question; parts of speech. “It’s all about using the proper pronouns,” she asserted with the calm authority of a linguistics maven promoting her latest book on NPR.
Needless to say, I rolled my eyes at the alleged “grammar,” but hey, Ms. Lynne is just parroting what she’s learned from people she respects, and I have no beef with her. No, it was the “linguistics maven” that got my goat. Listen up, Rob Hoerburger: those people are “grammar mavens.” The main NPR linguistics maven is Geoff Nunberg, and he doesn’t go around babbling about “‘begging’ versus ‘raising’ the question” and “using the proper pronouns,” because that’s not what linguistics is about. Why is this so hard to understand?