Edwin Battistella has a sensible post for OUPblog on how, as Edward Sapir once wrote, “All grammars leak.” He describes one example:
Many of our most common words have come to serve more than a single grammatical role, so a word serving one part of speech will often have a homonym—a grammatical doppelganger—that serves as a different part of speech. Often this arises from what is called functional shift, when we take a noun and make it into a verb as in to adult or to gym. This shiftiness makes it hard, and perhaps impossible, to think of a word as having just one categorization.
All well and good, and he gives a bunch of examples, but what stopped me in my tracks and made me want to post it was what came next:
Here’s an example. Recently, a friend told me that her daughter’s teacher had told her to never use the word that. She wondered if the advice was legit.
I’ve heard and seen a lot of peevery in my day, but “never use the word that” is a new one, and not only self-evidently idiotic but opaque, to me at least. Anybody know what might be going on here?