HAPPY BIRTHDAY, S&W!

If you go to the New York Times front page today and scroll down, you will see a row of boxes labeled “Inside NYTimes.com,” one of which is “Happy Birthday, Strunk and White!” If you click on it, you will be taken to their “Room for Debate” forum page, which now features a colloquium on the fiftieth anniversary of what I once called a “malign little compendium of bad advice”; the five participants are Geoffrey K. Pullum, professor of linguistics; Patricia T. O’Conner, grammarphobia.com; Ben Yagoda, professor of English; Mignon Fogarty, Grammar Girl; and—ahem—me. (I’d like to thank Picky for his final comment in this thread, around which I built my contribution.) I’ll be curious to see what Times readers have to say, and I hereby extend a hearty welcome to any who venture over here; all sorts of things related to language and languages get discussed here, and people of all levels of knowledge and experience have a good time. Take a look around and feel free to join in!
Update. The comments are up! I’ve read all 215 so far posted, and not surprisingly, most are defensive about their beloved icon (though a pleasing number of them admit that it may be out of date and not all the rules are dependable). Popular line of attack: so why don’t you losers write a better style guide yourselves? Popular form of exculpation: “The experienced writer has learned the rules and therefore can break or ignore them.” (This assumes, of course, that S&W are indeed providing “the rules.”) A charmingly inane variant: “I hear a subtle chorus of the postmodern view that all forms of language are equally valid and that rules impose some sort of oppression on those that won’t follow them or have their own rules.”
KCinCan (127. April 25, 2009 1:46 pm) n:icely sums up vox populi:

Stuffy and arcane doesn’t mean it is wrong or bad. I am a stickler on grammar and this book gives great guidance. I happen to believe that “None of us are perfect” is absolutely wrong; I don’t care if I don’t have a Phd in linguistics.
Where is Lynne Truss? She is the person whom I trust to give me the straight answer. Long Live Lynn!

Few of the responses were as forthrightly idiotic and self-refuting as Austin’s (65. April 25, 2009 10:18 am):

Those are the voices of the sore losers who wish they had written a book as concise and successful as the Elements of Style. Who are they to suggest that “The advice on “data” and “media” is outdated” when data and media has [sic –LH] been plural since the birth of the Latin language?

My favorite defense was by Palmer Ward (131. April 25, 2009 2:18 pm):

I love S&W simply because it was always sitting on my father’s desks – both at home and at his newspaper. It still sits on my desk in my office, as I lie on my bed downstairs writing into my laptop. I still find myself drawn to it when a thorny question arises. This shouldn’t infer I actually open it, however. I’m just drawn to it like a guilty Grandchild.

Who can argue with that? I cherish an 1855 edition of The Poetical Works of William Wordsworth, not one of my favorite poets and not a book I’ll ever actually read, because it belonged to my father’s father, Daddy Joe (as we called him). Long live familial sentiment!


One comment did prick my conscience; Joe (169. April 25, 2009 9:32 pm) wrote: “Well now, I noticed that these supposed experts offered not a single alternative to the classic Strunk & White. … It’d be nice if these pundits offered some constructive advice instead of simply ripping an old and somewhat outdated standard to shreds.” Guilty as charged (speaking for the pundits collectively), and I wish one of us had put in a plug for (in my case) MWDEU.

Comments

  1. I’ve noticed that lots of people have strong views on style guides. Does the mighty science of Linguistics have any scientific evidence on the subject? You know, controlled experiments to see whether such works do improve – in some measurable sense – the written English of those exposed to them.

  2. Another way to look at “Elements of Style.”
    For me, the book’s enduring value derives from what it has represented over time, not the relevance of its prescriptions to contemporary usage. It symbolizes a dedication to thoughtfulness and craft in writing that benefits both authors and audiences.
    Like any good book of etiquette, “The Elements of Style” is intended to benefit guests/readers, not constrain or judge the host/writer. That others have used it as a straightjacket, hammer, ruler on the knuckles, footbinding(choose your metaphor)is not a fatal flaw of the book.
    And in a time when clever vulgarity and 142-character fragments are preferred social media currency, I think it’s refreshing to be reminded once in a while that highly evolved language is one of the achievements that set humans apart as a species.
    Do I use it as a reference work? Not for years. Do I adhere to its dogmatic pronouncements? Probably not, and neither do I care. But I’ve internalized its call for discipline and rigor in writing, which continues to pay dividends.

  3. Well written, Language, an interesting new development.
    I found Geoff Pullum’s article that you linked to to be the most persuasive and thorough argument I’ve read against S&W.
    I do wish people would stop calling it a ‘little book’ as if they wanted to associate it with Mao’s ‘Little Red Book’ of the 1960s, or as if ‘little’ were a part of the problem.
    It would have been nice to have read one piece in favor of S&W — the NYT must know some mug who’d write it — just for a little variation.

  4. parvomagnus says:

    My impression is that “little book” is one of the traditional epithets in Strunkian hagiography, and its use by Pullum and the like mostly sarcasm.

  5. marie-lucie says:

    I read the NYTimes feature early this morning and was pleasantly surprised to see LH included among the participants. Their pictures are unfortunately a little small to see them in detail, but only one of them is wearing a hat.
    Yesterday I was talking to a friend (not a linguist) about the current S&W brouhaha (if this is a good use of the term) and she had not too happy recollections of being required to observe its recommendations in high school and college (in Ontario, Canada). .

  6. The picture tolerates enlargement to about 2″ x 2″, I found (with Photoshop), above that it gets too blobby. I may do an exposé tomorrow at my blog…

  7. I do wish people would stop calling it a ‘little book’ as if they wanted to associate it with Mao’s ‘Little Red Book’ of the 1960s, or as if ‘little’ were a part of the problem.
    Absolutelyt, because The Little Red Book retains iys validity to this day, whereas S&W never had any.

  8. I do wish people would stop calling it a ‘little book’ as if they wanted to associate it with Mao’s ‘Little Red Book’ of the 1960s, or as if ‘little’ were a part of the problem.
    Absolutelyt, because The Little Red Book retains iys validity to this day, whereas S&W never had any.

  9. marie-lucie says:

    I understand that the first version, by Strunk alone, was indeed a “little” book, only 43 pages, but White enlarged it quite a bit.

  10. Strunk himself referred to it as “the little book,” and White repeats the phrase frequently in his introduction.
    I’m starting to wonder why there are no comments at the forum. Doesn’t anybody care?

  11. SnowLeopard says:

    Perhaps you were all so persuasive and authoritative that you occupied the field.

  12. Nicely done, Hat! NYT, no less.
    The whole controversy almost makes me wish I had been exposed to the book at some point.

  13. I read languagehat before it was in the New York Times.

  14. scarabaeus says:

    Little book , it be about having a handy reference in thy ‘westoat’ for those that wanted to be reminded of some of their ‘ems and ars, ever present like a cell phone, a way to check thy “gramer”.
    Style be two types, in and out.
    RE: mug shot, the meerschaum is not visible otherwise it could be a reasonable likeness.
    Like all ‘ow too,s, to be read, swallowed and digested, the good parts that be and then the rest be recycled for mother earth’s use.

  15. i went there and read the immigration thread about h1-b visas etc
    maa mada da nee people

  16. I’ve never read S&W (as I’m sure is obvious), but birthdays are supposed to be happy times, and I thought that this sounded like happy news on the book-publishing front.

  17. marie-lucie says:

    Yes, Stuart, thank you for the link. It would be great to use this process to have access to academic books of very specialized interest, which tend to have very short print runs, so that they go out of print soon. The printing here seems amazingly fast. The article did not say how much the books (printed and bound in one fell swoop!) cost.
    I have always wondered why in the English-speaking world publishers first issue a book (especially a novel) in hardback at a high price, and only later in paperback if the book sells. In France until recently most books were first published in paperback with a cheap cover and uncut pages, which buyers could have specially bound by a binder if they wanted, or a special expensive bound edition could be issued later if the book was really in demand. Few books were first issued in hardback. Nowadays with better technology those books are issued with better paper and cut pages, but still in paperback. The production costs are cheaper, so a reader can take a chance on a new novel without spending too much money, unlike the English books where many people do not buy the hardback but wait for the paperback.

  18. The French order of publishing, most affordable first, makes a lot of sense to me and would probably see more books bought by the budget-conscious reader. As it is, those of us with little discretionary income either have to joing long queues at the library or wait for the paperback release.

  19. marie-lucie says:

    It is also better for the publisher, who does not have to invest as much in a new author, for instance. And a cheaper book makes for more readers, who will buy more books by the authors they like.

  20. Here‘s the home of the US parent, On Demand Books; I can’t find any indication of how much the books cost. But it’s a great idea.

  21. Elibron offers a similar on-demand service, and they also produce very attractive books with nice covers. I’ve mostly gon to them for rare books on Central Asia, but they have (for example) the complete Trollope. They also have a ton of classic travel books.

  22. Elibron offers a similar on-demand service, and they also produce very attractive books with nice covers. I’ve mostly gon to them for rare books on Central Asia, but they have (for example) the complete Trollope. They also have a ton of classic travel books.

  23. M-L, I also really love the plain covers of a lot of French paperbacks, for example those by Gallimard. They just look a lot more like real books than the American books with flashy covers.

  24. M-L, I also really love the plain covers of a lot of French paperbacks, for example those by Gallimard. They just look a lot more like real books than the American books with flashy covers.

  25. It says Blackwells (a lovely bookshop in Oxford that has, I think, recently expanded to Charing X Rd and perhaps other places) hasn’t figured out the pricing, but it’s likely to be similar to ordinary books. That means production costs are probably low, but they seem to be planning to market it as something to help customers get hard to obtain books rather than cheaper books.

  26. I’ve always liked Penguins. And I like their book covers too.

  27. marie-lucie says:

    LH, Thank you for linking to the site of On Demand books. I see that they have several locations (mostly planned) in Canada, though not anywhere close to where I am.

  28. Blackwells (a lovely bookshop in Oxford that has, I think, recently expanded to Charing X Rd

    I could have sworn that I was in that Blackwell in the 90s, buying Lidell-Scott as well as Aristotle in the Loeb Classical Library (which I never read, of course). But the shop page says it has been there for only four years.
    It must have been the South Bridge Blackwell in Edinburgh where I loaded up on Trollope and Ryle in 1973. I don’t much imagine things in spatial terms, so it’s remarkable that I can remember bookstores in 3-D. Such as Foyles and the now-defunct Silvermoon Women’s Bookshop, also in the Charing Cross Road.

  29. Liddell-Scott

  30. Here’s the home of the US parent, On Demand Books
    No wonder they’re calling it an espresso machine; the head of the company is the former CEO of Dean & Deluca.

  31. “It is also better for the publisher, who does not have to invest as much in a new author, for instance. And a cheaper book makes for more readers, who will buy more books by the authors they like.” – The publisher won’t be in business very long if they publish unknown and unsold authors in cheap (paper) editions hoping to reveal the latest literary star. I believe studies have shown consumers less concerned with price when after the latest from their favorite writers. Inversely, a cheaper book by an unknown will gather dust at the same rate regardless of the cover price.

  32. marie-lucie says:

    Hozo, I am not trying to advise the publishers, since the English-speaking public might associate the larger hardcover book with quality. I am making a general comment. French books did not sell less well when they were first issued in cheap-looking editions with uncut pages and flimsy paper covers, since that was what the French public was used to. Current French first editions do look better (like “trade paperbacks”) because of the improvement in paper quality and book production but are still not hardcover.

  33. And the anglo-saxon public are accustomed to books first issued in hardcover where they equally seem to have not sold less well with the added benefit of being better-looking.

  34. One of the main reasons, I think, U.S. publishers print first a cloth edition is that it allows them to recoup their often-heavy initial investment in acquiring, designing, and editing the manuscript. The manufacturing and warehousing costs, although substantial, are really not that markedly different for cloth and paperback books. The print-on-demand model provides a great opportunity for a publisher to continue the life of a book once it has earned back the money it put into the book’s development (especially when it can’t be sure it will sell out a second edition). But for new works, the initial investment has to come from somewhere.
    As an aside, what a wonderful web site! I have been coming here daily for several weeks now and am glad I finally had something to add to the discussions.

  35. The French order of publishing, most affordable first, makes a lot of sense to me and would probably see more books bought by the budget-conscious reader.
    This budget-conscious reader of French books rarely splashes out on anything so grand as a broché(?) when there are seriously cheap poches to wait for. (It helps that I am not very particular, since not everything makes the transition.)
    Without Marie-Lucie’s expert guidance it would never have occurred to me that the big old brochés were a bargain at all, although the old-school don’t-judge-by covers are certainly very cool. (The ones with unremovable banners telling you what prizes they won or almost are intensely uncool though.)
    Dutch publishers seem to mainly deal in what the US calls “trade paperbacks”: annoyingly large, annoyingly expensive paperbacks. (In non-fiction they are in any case often preliminary editions to an at-least-planned expanded English translation.)

  36. Yesterday, at a supermarket (the cheap one), I saw a bunch of paperbacks all jumbled up in a bin next to the ice cream cabinet. You couldn’t read the titles without picking them up. It seemed a funny strategy.

  37. David Marjanović says:

    Mignon Fogarty, Grammar Girl

    And her parents didn’t think of just maybe naming her Mignonne?
    Whatever. I know of a precedent, also in the USA. And I went to school with a male Michele who was pronounced the French rather than the Italian way. And I once came across a René who spelled himself more like Rene` in his own handwriting…
    <sigh>

  38. Has anyone actually read one of these instant books? Is the printing just as good as a regular book?
    A year or two ago, I saw that some publishers (Oxford, Springer,…) were offering books online that I thought had gone out of print. I bought a few, only to find that they had been printed with some print-on-demand machine. The text was bad, the cover was worse.

  39. Is the printing just as good as a regular book?
    I ordered one from Amazon a few years ago that was supposed to be an “on demand” book. It was certainly good for one reading, which was what I wanted it for. There’s something vaguely unsettling about the margins, nothing you can put a finger on–shouldn’t the top margin be larger than the bottom one instead of the other way around?–and the cover is glued a little strangely. Also no title on the spine, which has a lot of shelf wear for only one reading–the glossy black part is flaking off and you can see white underneath, not to mention fingerprints. Other than that, it doesn’t look too bad.

  40. marie-lucie says:

    David: Mignon Fogarty, Grammar Girl
    - And her parents didn’t think of just maybe naming her Mignonne?

    The precedent for Mignon as a feminine name (since it is not a name, but a masculine adjective in French) is in German literature, Goethe to be exact (in the novel about Wilhelm Meister. Perhaps the parents loved the opera that was loosely based on the book, in which Mignon sings Connais-tu le pays où fleurit l’oranger “Do you know the country were the orange tree blooms”, an adaptation of Goethe’s Kennst Du das Land, wo die Zitronen blumen “Do you know the country where the lemons bloom”. Lemons were changed to oranges in the translation in order to fit the words into an alexandrin (practically the default type of verse in classical French poetry).
    The word “minion” is an adaptation of the masculine adjective mignon: in the 16th century there was a young (and short-lived) king of France who liked to be surrounded by other pretty young men, who were called his mignons, literally “cute ones”.
    There is a famous French poem from around the same time which starts with the feminine Mignonne, but that is not a girl’s name, only a term of affectionate address.

  41. I’ve bought a number of on-demand books from Elibron.com and they’ve all been excellent with very nice covers and well-made, durable books. They were all photo reproductions of the original so they seemed old-fashioned.
    From some other POD service I also bought a POD version of an out-of-print still-copyrighted academic book about the Mamluks, quite a specialized topic, and it was not a physically attractive book but it was well made and durable

  42. I’ve bought a number of on-demand books from Elibron.com and they’ve all been excellent with very nice covers and well-made, durable books. They were all photo reproductions of the original so they seemed old-fashioned.
    From some other POD service I also bought a POD version of an out-of-print still-copyrighted academic book about the Mamluks, quite a specialized topic, and it was not a physically attractive book but it was well made and durable

  43. marie-lucie says:

    deariemie: I’ve noticed that lots of people have strong views on style guides. Does the mighty science of Linguistics have any scientific evidence on the subject? You know, controlled experiments to see whether such works do improve – in some measurable sense – the written English of those exposed to them.
    Not that I know of precisely, but that does not mean anything. It would come under “applied linguistics” which deals mostly (though not exclusively) with applications of linguistics to teaching language, and the most likely people to have conducted such experiments would be in the educational field. Trying to measure the results of different methods is a big part of educational research.
    The problem is not “style guides” in general, it is whether a particular guide gives useful practical advice, together with relevant examples, or vague or contradictory, often negative prescriptions which leave the reader in the dark about what to do. It seems that the famous S&W is not a particularly good guide, and its reputation is overdone.

  44. Does anyone here know about Plain English, a style guide written by a British civil servant, which was such a pleasure to read that I read it twice (like Jaques Barzun). I applied it in my letter-writing when I worked in the B. C. Geographical Names Office.

  45. I’m filing that Mignon comment of yours, Marie-Lucie.

  46. Marie-lucie thank you so much for that fascinating post on mignon/minion – I shall never look at the streak the same way again!

  47. I think you mean Plain Words, lacon, by Sir Ernest Gowers. He wrote it at the request of the British Civil Service to improve the language public servants use, particularly when addressing the public. He followed it up with the ABC of Plain Words, and the two were collected in the amazingly successful Complete Plain Words – and, as you say, it’s very nicely written.
    Gowers went on to edit the second edition of Fowler’s Modern English Usage – I hesitate to say the BrE equivalent to S&W, since it is a light-years better work, with much more scholarship behind it, although it’s rather dated now.

  48. bruessel says:

    Just a small remark: it is “das Land, wo die Zitronen blühen” (not “blumen”, which is not a German verb, the substantive “Blumen” means flowers).

  49. Sorry .. that should be lakon (I’ve obviously been reading too much le Carre).

  50. marie-lucie says:

    bruessel, it is “das Land, wo die Zitronen blühen” (not “blumen”, which is not a German verb, the substantive “Blumen” means flowers).
    You are right. I was quoting from a long ago memory and was influenced by English “to bloom”. The idea of lemons literally blooming is weird though: does the same word means “lemon” and “lemon-tree” in German? or is that just a common way of phrasing it?.

  51. marie-lucie says:

    I believe the name of our new correspondent is Iakon, not lakon.

  52. Sorry, iakon; thanks, marie-lucie … so THAT’s why English capitalises “I” !
    And THAT’s why serif founts are easier to read !!
    One last word on Gowers – Complete Plain Words is still available, in a version edited by the late Sidney Greenbaum and Janet Whitcut.

  53. Well, technically iakon, but yes, it’s an eye, not an ell.

  54. bruessel says:

    m-l: Technically, of course, you’re right, it should be “die Zitronenbäume blühen”, but I suspect that would have made the first line of the poem too long.

  55. marie-lucie says:

    bruessel, yes, and the line is perfectly understandable as it is, I was just being picky.

  56. There are still no comments shown on the NYT site for the S&W discussion. I’d bet a substantial sum that this is not because none of their readers have an opinion. Could it be that the sub-editor who moderates comments is out sick? Or is there some other reason?

  57. Can it be that so far they’ve all been abusive?
    If no one turns up soon I might post a few lines flaying LH’s self-satisfied correspondent.

  58. none of their readers have an opinion.
    Okay, it’s optional, but he did that on purpose, because we’re talking about S&W.

  59. And he expects all their readers to share just one opinion, I notice.

  60. Could it be that the sub-editor who moderates comments is out sick?
    It’s definitely something like that; there hasn’t been a comment on ANY of the posts since the S&W one went up.

  61. I really like your piece, Hat, so ПОЗДРАВЛЯЮ! УРА!
    I liked the other pieces too, even if I didn’t agree with every word of them. Why aren’t there any comments? Are you all freaked out over the swine flu? Is everyone checking their temperature and lymph nodes? (It’s being heavily — I mean HEAVILY — covered over here in Russia.)

  62. There’s very heavy coverage on BBC news and Sky news too.
    The BBC said that it doesn’t have anything to do with pigs; it can’t be transferred from us to them or vice versa. So, why ‘swine’? Does someone not like Mexicans?

  63. Whew! We can all continue our normal swinophile activities, praise God!

  64. Whew! We can all continue our normal swinophile activities, praise God!

  65. jamessal says:

    They’re up now, and apparently our dear host is an overbearing, over educated, self-serving curmudgeon! Congrats, Hat! It appears we’re outnumbered!

  66. I was actually relieved that there was only one comment attacking me personally; Pullum took most of the flak, as is only fair, since he is more distinguished and actually gets paid to pronounce upon language.

  67. jamessal says:

    Yeah, no, they weren’t that hard on you. Just a bit of knee-jerk cheery defiance on my part, in response to the number of S&W lovers.

  68. Over educated curmudgeon: I wish one of us had put in a plug for (in my case) MWDEU.
    I also plugged MWDEU, which I learnt about from you, of course. I love it and as I’ve said it’s great to read in the bath; but it is alphabetical, it’s not really like reading S&W or Lynn Truss. Isn’t there something with chapters; something for the people who don’t read dictionaries for fun? Noetica‘s a really good writer and he’s very keen on the Longman Grammar of Spoken and Written English; perhaps that’s more comparable, I haven’t seen it.

  69. Holy crap, I see it’s not comparable in price. It’s $124 at Amazon.

  70. But Longman Student Grammar of Spoken and Written English (Paperback) you can get for $15, as good as new, at Amazon. I wonder if it’s any good.

  71. If you read a bit of the expensive Longman at Amazon it looks enjoyable, at least. I’m not in a position to judge the scholarship. Noetica says it’s the new benchmark.

  72. I’m going back inside my shell now.

  73. David Marjanović says:

    The word “minion” is an adaptation of the masculine adjective mignon: in the 16th century there was a young (and short-lived) king of France who liked to be surrounded by other pretty young men, who were called his mignons, literally “cute ones”.

    Interesting. I had no idea…
    And no, nobody ever reads Wilhelm Meister. :-)

    The idea of lemons literally blooming is weird though: does the same word means “lemon” and “lemon-tree” in German? or is that just a common way of phrasing it?

    Nope, it’s completely weird. Clearly it’s a matter of verse. Perhaps Goethe gets away with it under the influence of Kirschblüte, Apfelblüte, Orangenblüte etc., which mean 1) “blossom of a cherry/apple/orange/… tree”; 2) “the act of cherry/apple/orange/… trees blooming” or rather the time when they do so (talking about Japan: es ist Kirschblüte).

    so THAT’s why English capitalises “I” !

    AFAIK the i-dot was introduced to mark the letter in a long sequence of vertical strokes (when close to m, n, u…); when used as a word, “ı” had no neighbours, didn’t need a dot, and eventually was interpreted as “I” because it lacked the dot. Can some historian here set me straight…?

  74. marie-lucie says:

    a young (and short-lived) king of France who liked to be surrounded by other pretty young men, who were called his mignons, literally “cute ones”.
    It occurs to me, thinking of the analogy with the feminine address (ma) mignonne, that he probably addressed each of those young men as (mon) mignon, so others referred to them in the same way. As an adjective this word is usually applied to small children or to cute, dainty and charming young teenaged girls.

  75. For the 3rd time of trying this post.
    Thanks, Picky, you’re absolutely right. It’s Plain Words by Sir Ernest Gowers. I checked before I dropped in here.
    This is my 3rd attempt at this post (hard to write with fingers crossed heh heh) because not only have I mis-written Iakon previously, I’ve given the a wrong email address. Hope everything is OK now.
    Rejected again! I have to use a small ‘i’.
    I’ve been nervous because I’m new at this. I also have to wear dark glasses staring into a light-source because I want to avoid losing a macula, as my mother has recently.

  76. m-l: does the same word mean “lemon” and “lemon-tree” in German? or is that just a common way of phrasing it?. … bruessel: Technically, of course, you’re right, it should be “die Zitronenbäume blühen”, but I suspect that would have made the first line of the poem too long. … DM: Nope, it’s completely weird. Clearly it’s a matter of verse.

    In German and English definitely, as well as French as far as I have seen, there’s nothing at all unusual or technically deficient about designating certain kinds of trees, bushes and leaves without using the words tree, bush and leaf: der Sauerkirsch, a lone pine, un laurier, a garland of laurels. Last week an old woman on the train from Bonn to Meckenheim was telling me about the different times fruit-trees bloom: der Sauerkirsch blüht später als der Kirsch.
    This does not apply in English, and in Spanish as far as I remember, with regard to fruit-bearing trees: apple tree, árbol de manzana.

    And no, nobody ever reads Wilhelm Meister. :-)

    David, I recall a similar expostulation of yours to the effect that “nobody ever reads that Schinken of a Grimm Wörterbuch”. Such claims are just ridiculous. Vielleicht gehst du mit zuvielen Niemands um. :-)
    The Grimm entry on Zitrone gives the Goethe line a resonance I hadn’t picked up on, because I had neglected the following line. Grimm says that lemon trees bear blooms and fruit simultaneously. That, in fact, is the very point of the verses:

    GÖTHE faszt das bild des zitronenbaums mit seinem nebeneinander von blüte und frucht in die bekannten verse Mignons:

    kennst du das land, wo die citronen blühn,
    im dunkeln laub die goldorangen glühn? I 21, 233 W.;

    The Goldapfel entry documents a few attempts (verdeutschungsversuche) in the 16th and 17th centuries to designate quinces and lemons as golden apples.
    Clearly for too long I have underestimated this business of minions. It was said of a Roman emperor that he engaged a bevy of young boys to nibble at his extremities underwater as he swam. Democracy and individual freedoms have separated these issues. Now anyone can indulge without having to worry about being reelected.

  77. marie-lucie says:

    “The grave is a fine and private place
    But NONE I think do there embrace.”

    - The Singular Clasp of One Embracing
    This quotation represents the entire contents of the last comment (228th I think) that I read on the NYTimes forum just before starting this one. It is directed at an earlier commenter who said that “none = not one”. In fact, as Pullum or Liberman said on Language Log, where there was an extensive discussion of “none”, this word is not a recent contraction but continues the Old English word nan.
    Before I add more comments I should say that I have never read S&W, or felt the need to have a style guide within reach on my desk or shelf at all times, or had the slightest inclination to use such a work as an aid to relaxing in a hot bath. What I know of the work derives entirely from the comments I have read, here and elsewhere. I don’t plan to emulate Picky’s admirable dedication and actually buy the book.
    I did not find even the most negative comments towards LH, Pullum and others really abusive, and most comments concentrated on other aspects of the controversy. A point made by many commenters who work in community colleges or technical schools or even law schools is that many students are so clueless about writing that any advice is better than none, and their students do not have the time to read a longer work, so the “little” book is a godsend for them. These commenters were usually fairly balanced in their evaluation of the book, saying that the book was a useful tool, not “handed down from Mount Sinai” and not meant for persons who were already good writers. I think that this is a good point which can be overlooked by people whose sole experience of student writing is either their own (and if they were good writers then, they would not be exposed to the work of poor writers) or that of elite students. But a revision such as Strunk & Cowan would answer the purpose better.
    I was puzzled by the number of people who referred to how beautifully written, witty, etc the work was. From the quotations I have read, it does not seem exceptionally so. Some other commenters thought that violating one’s own rules in the same paragraph as stating them was just proof of a sense of humour. But if one of the major recommendations is “be clear”, contradicting oneself in this manner is bound to confuse a student with limited skills. Finally, a number of people who praised the book demonstrated that they had failed to learn some elementary skills from it.
    I come away from these discussions and comments wondering about what is meant by “style”: some publications such as the Chicago manual, or the “style sheets” for various journals, deal with purely mechanical details of presentation such as how to handle quotations or bibliography, whether to put punctuation within or without parentheses, or to underline or capitalize paragraph headings, and such, which can be done by an assistant or during the last rereading of the final draft as they are mostly irrelevant to an author’s distinctive manner of writing. From the little I see, S&W’s recommendations seem to be meant for a standard, neutral type of expository writing, not for anything that will contribute to a writer’s development of “style” as a distinctive personal attribute (something which does not have to be limited to “literary” productions).

  78. marie-lucie says:

    oranges and lemons
    Thank you, Grumbly, that interpretation of fruit name = tree name makes sense for Goethe’s poem.
    un laurier = a garland of laurels
    I would not use the word quite like this: un laurier is a laurel tree, but the plural des lauriers is used metaphorically to mean some honour or distinction received, by analogy with the laurel crown (la couronne de laurier(s)) worn by some distinguished Romans such as victorious generals. When cooking with a laurel leaf, the phrase used is always une feuille de laurier.

  79. marie-lucie: “Garland of laurels” is an English trope of considerable antiquity, not an attempt by me to translate un laurier.

  80. When cooking with a laurel leaf, the phrase used is always une feuille de laurier.

    As in English: you add a bay leaf to the ratatouille.
    However, I didn’t claim that there is one and only one way these things are handled in a particular language, nor that each and every kind of tree, bush … expression has identical word-count analogues in German, English and French. That’s why I wrote “designating certain kinds of trees, bushes and leaves without using the words tree, bush and leaf”, and gave four examples in four languages.

  81. Oops-a-daisy, I thought “trope” was equivalent to “standing expression”, or “clapped-out phrase”. It’s different and more specific than that. Aren’t there other, snazzier standing expressions for “standing expression”? Is “garland of laurels” best described (in one aspect at least) as being a standing expression? It doesn’t exactly stand, but it’s not clapped-out either, just a wee trite.
    marie-lucie: would that be expression fixe?

  82. marie-lucie: I now see that you took “der Sauerkirsch, a lone pine, un laurier, a garland of laurels” to be a sequence of expression/translation pairs. I could have written “der Sauerkirsch [(that, the) sour cherry (tree, i.e. type of tree, or one tree of that type)], a lone pine, un laurier [laurel (bush)], a garland of laurels” – but that would be pretty confusing. I should have given the examples in an entirely different way.

  83. OT (again, sorry) but when did Crown grow a blog? (About time, really.)

  84. marie-lucie: I agree with what you say about the tone of the S&W comments. There are the expected few who take criticism of the book to be an attack on their status as users of the language; there is a lot of nostalgia; but coming through clearly are people who have needed a usage/style/grammar guide to learn or teach from, and have found this, and are grateful for it.
    Unless these folk are wrong there is a need for a modern, short, accessible work aimed at US high school/college students. My own view (no, m-l, you’re right, don’t buy it!) is that an edit of the book won’t do the trick: it has a very idiosyncratic structure which is probably part of its appeal but which is very clumsy.
    Perhaps the publishers (I’m not clear who holds the rights – Longman have their name on the latest) could be talked into doing what OUP did with Fowler: commission a totally new work, called The New Strunk and White to fool most of the people for as long as possible, and spattered with tributes to the original to calm the horses.
    Perhaps the time has come for concerned Americans to stop moaning about it and start pressing for the book the schools need?

  85. Picky and marie-lucie have hit the nail on the head, but who will bell the cat? The descriptivists seem to be stuck in their outrage over anything that smacks of rules (even though they are able to write excruciatingly correct prose at the drop of a hat) and totally unwilling to do anything but observe the language from afar, and the prescriptivists are so uber technical no one will be able to read them.
    All the ESL and GED stuff about grammar and composition I have used consists of a short presentation of some grammar point, often in list form with examples, followed by a bunch of exercises. No where is something simple and entertaining someone can read from cover to cover that will help them start to write coherently.
    Add to that the perception I have gotten that no one knows what is correct anymore. And even if we knew the rules, everyone says a good writer can break them. So how do good writers break the rules in ways that make sense?

  86. It’s not off topic, Sili. It’s a blog with topics and LH is a blog with topics; they’re both blogs and both have topical topics. It’s very recent; please make a comment there.

  87. marie-lucie says:

    Grumbly: I knew that “lone pine” was not a translation of Sauerkirsch, but it seemed to me that you meant “a garland of laurels to translate un laurier. Thank you for the correction.
    I know the term “bay leaf” for “a leaf of bay laurel” used in cooking but had forgotten about it as I was thinking of my French memories. There was a bay laurel tree in my parents’ garden, so they just plucked out a leaf or two when needed.
    standing expression: That would be une expression figée rather than fixe. The verb se figer in its concrete sense means to congeal as for instance bacon or other fat left to cool.

  88. marie-lucie says:

    Sili, just click on AJP’s name to discover the blog.

  89. And it’s in my blogroll, just above Pepys Diary. Make it a daily read!

  90. Grumbly Stu, poets can get away in English with not using “tree” when referring to the fruit-bearing kind:
    Loveliest of trees, the cherry now
    Is hung with bloom along the bough,
    And stands about the woodland ride
    Wearing white for Eastertide.
    Now, of my threescore years and ten,
    Twenty will not come again,
    And take from seventy springs a score,
    It only leaves me fifty more.
    And since to look at things in bloom
    Fifty springs are little room,
    About the woodlands I will go
    To see the cherry hung with snow

  91. To be sure. However, my point was that locutions designating a type of tree or bush, and that do not include the words “tree” or “bush”, are quite common outside of poetry. I made this point to rebuff the claim that some kind of poetic freedom must be invoked to account for wo die citronen blühen.

  92. Zythophile: Your example may be a good one of poetic freedom in designating cherry trees. I don’t think you would hear an old woman on the train say “the sour cherry blooms later than the cherry” – or maybe so after all? Do I remember reading that kind of expression in connection with the South, somewhere in Eudora Welty perhaps, said by an old folk? There’s something genteel about it. Anyhoo, if it is more common than I believed, that only strengthens my case.

  93. when did Crown grow a blog?
    Even better than reading it every day, you can add it to your feedreader (I prefer google feedreader). Just go to his website and click on “RSS feed”. There is a feed for “RSS comments” as well. It’s easy to miss comments on the sidebar, especially when the comments are nested–I think it’s some sort of bug–but they always come across the feedreader. I subscribe to my own blog as well, so I can see at a glance when someone comments (or spams me).

  94. marie-lucie says:

    “Poetic freedom” in this case may be no more than popular use (among people who grow trees): if the “tree” or “bush” part is common to several items in the same conversation, paragraph or poem, it does not have to be repeated each time but can be omitted without loss of understanding. Some trees which do not produce edible fruit may use “tree” optionally: an “oak tree” is the same as an “oak”, and similarly with “fir tree” and “fir”, “willow tree” and “willow”.
    In French or Spanish, most fruit-bearing plants are not compounds but derivatives, as in French un cerisier “a cherry tree” (une cerise “a cherry”), un framboisier “a raspberry bush” (une framboise “a rasperry”), un fraisier “a strawberry plant (une fraise “a strawberry”) and similarly for a large number of trees, bushes, etc., so it is not possible to use just the name of the fruit to refer to the tree or plant. Trees which do not produce edible parts (or are not grown or sought for them) simply have a single name.
    In English the word “tree” is not repeated either when other parts are referred to: Canada’s emblem is a “maple leaf”, not a “maple tree leaf”; furniture can be made from “cherry wood” not “cherry tree wood”; “cherry bark” is the bark of the tree, not the fruit.
    It would seem then that the Germanic (including English) use of “tree”, “bush” and similar generic terms in compounds with the specific name must be a late, originally optional, addition for purposes of clarification. It is still most widespread with trees or other plants commonly grown for the purpose, where the word “tree”, etc can be omitted if the meaning is clear.

  95. marie-lucie says:

    most fruit-bearing plants are not compounds …
    I meant: the names of most fruit-bearing plants ….

  96. Siganus Sutor says:

    In French or Spanish, most fruit-bearing plants are not compounds but derivatives, as in French un cerisier “a cherry tree” (une cerise “a cherry”), un framboisier “a raspberry bush” (une framboise “a rasperry”), un fraisier “a strawberry plant (une fraise “a strawberry”) and similarly for a large number of trees, bushes, etc.
    That’s what I thought too until I realised that our crazy neighbours, those people sometimes referred to as “Bourbonnais”, use the word goyavier to refer to a fruit. For us Martians, as for the rest of the universe I presume, a goyavier is a tree that produces goyaves (guavas). Indeed, you have different types of guavas. You have for instance the one we call “goyave de Chine”, which comes from Brazil as one can guess. But at some point in time those people there were probably intoxicated by the fumes coming out of their volcano because they started to call this fruit goyavier.

  97. marie-lucie says:

    Then what do they call the tree?

  98. Sig: You have for instance the one we call “goyave de Chine”
    When I was young, what are now known as kiwi fruit were called ‘Chinese gooseberries’. And pomegranates are ‘Chinese apples’. And then there’s appelsin. Is there a common reason for naming fruit ‘Chinese’? Was it a 17th-19th Century comment on their exoticness?

  99. Language: Make it a daily read!
    At least if you have a very short memory. Better get busy…

  100. Oh, but I know of it *now*. But this commentsecetion was the first place I noticed that the good Grafenking had one. Hence the “when” (and “grown”). I have already had a brief look and I like the goatbra (I think we in Danish “kæmmer” wool to clean it and “karter” it to straighten the fibers).

  101. marie-lucie says:

    “the goatbra” ??

  102. marie-lucie says:

    Sili: Oh, sorry, I thought you meant it literally (a bra, not a coat, for a goat) but you must mean “zebra-goat”.

  103. I thought that Crown had woven Sili a bra using fleece from his ever-so-elegant goats. This seemed highly presumptuous, but then, what do I know about their relationship?, and you know how Crown is.

  104. I thought that Crown had woven Sili a bra using fleece from his ever-so-elegant goats. This seemed highly presumptuous, but then, what do I know about their relationship?, and you know how Crown is.

  105. Thanks for the coinage, Sili, and thanks for the explanation, Marie-Lucie — I, too, was a bit confused for a minute.
    I have better things to do with my time than weave bras, Pete. Crocheting would be far more appropriate.

  106. what are now known as kiwi fruit were called ‘Chinese gooseberries’
    Because they came from China – brought over by migrant workers as I understand. The treatment of the Chinese immigrants of the late 19th and early 20th centuries was sufficiently egregious to earn a formal State apology a decade or so ago.

  107. A formal State apology by H.M. The Old Bat or just from you lot?

  108. Hi. I think readers here might be interested in my latest blog post regarding the NY Times’ “debate” about Strunk and White. Please visit if you get the chance:
    http://blog.textarts.com/2009/04/strunk-and-white-elements-of-style.html
    Regards,
    Mark

  109. Mark says he’s written his own book about S&W; ‘this fun and helpful little book’, he calls it.
    I hope his book is less biased than what he’s written at his blog — he calls the NY Times contributors ‘the “experts”‘, as if there were something phony about their judgment — if not it’s a wasted opportunity to document the different reactions to S&W. As Picky has been saying, they’re really more interesting than S&W itself.

  110. He also says “Stephen Dodson, a blogger asked to comment in ‘Room for Debate,’ calls Elements a mangy stuffed owl—something like that.” Hey, pal, are you too lazy to quote what I said (“that mangiest of stuffed owls”), or are you too dishonest to do so, fearing that the liveliness of what I actually wrote might distract readers from your message? (I’ll bet money you’ve never heard of the book I was referencing, either.) Some editor—I sure wouldn’t entrust text to you.

  111. might distract readers from your message
    I got distracted waaay before I got that far–it’s not a particularity riveting essay. Too long, did not finish.
    The comments on the NYT piece from people who had found the book useful were much more interesting, and made me wonder if there was anything in the book that would help me improve my writing.

  112. A formal State apology by H.M. The Old Bat or just from you lot?
    It was issued in the name of the Crown (not you), of course, but was actually given by the then PM, for whom “the old bat” was probably one of the most complimentary nickname ever applied. While she was in office, Wellington was called Helengrad by her political opponnts, now she’s running the UNDP and is the Moon’s problem.

  113. He’s right about Professor Pullum and the Great Adjective Accusation, however.

  114. Yes, I thought he had a very good point. If he’d just stuck with that I might have taken him seriously; but he had so many other axes to grind and his writing’s slightly creepy. Heaven knows why he wanted to put the boot in with Language, though. I suppose he’s trying to generate some interest for his book.

  115. About Helen Clark, it says in Wiki:

    In January 2009, two months after losing office, Clark was voted Greatest Living New Zealander in an opt-in website poll run by the New Zealand Herald. In a close race she received 25 percent of the vote, ahead of Victoria Cross recipient Willie Apiata at 21 percent.

    I make that 46% accounted for. So, who did the other 54% vote for?
    From now on, Stuart, you are Greatest Living New Zealander. If anyone gives you trouble, tell them to see John Emerson.

  116. voted Greatest Living New Zealander
    In terms of meaningful polls, this one ranks right up there with “Most Honest Politician” and “Sexiest Burka”.

  117. I’d have thought it beats Greatest Dead New Zealander.

  118. I’d have thought it beats Greatest Dead New Zealander.
    Possibly, although given my disappointed discovery today that in the 500+ pages of David Crystal’s “Stories of English” the phrase “New Zealand” occurs only twice, and that Pitcairn English and South Pacific English get brief mentions while NZE gets none, maybe all NZers, living or dead, are merely figments of their own imaginations. That must be so, since I imagined I spoke and heard English, but Professor Crystal’s book says we have no English story to be told.

  119. Norwegians went around telling anyone who’d listen that it was in fact a Norwegian who had invented the paperclip — and then the whole story collapsed when evidence to the contrary was produced. It was but a myth, like the tales of the nordic gods.
    There’s a very pretty New Zealander called Lucy Hockings who reads the news on the BBC World tv channel. And then my great uncle was married to one — a New Zealander, not a newsreader — who lived to be ninety-something; her father was a general. Her sister, who lived in Buenos Aires, had a fur stole that she kept finding strewn in different places around her house. It turned out to have a snake living inside it. Lil, her name was — the sister, not etc. — she was also a New Zealander.

  120. Aah yes, the lovely Ms Hockings – not merely unhonoured but practically unknown in her homeland. A grave injustice, that.

  121. You can see clips of Ms. Hockings here.

  122. why he wanted to put the boot in
    I don’t get that one–putting boots
    Didn’t a Dane invent the zipper?

  123. Cassell:
    put the boot in v. (also put in the boot, sock/stick the boot in) [1910s+] (orig. Aus.) 1 to kick someone during a fight; thus in with the boot, no holds barred. 2 in fig. use, to victimize, to attack.

  124. In Taiwan back in 1983 I met a NZer who asked me to identify his accent. It was a game he played to see how far down the ladder people would go. NZ according to him people (Americans) would guess Canadian, Australian, various odd British dialects, and South African, and then give up before even guessing NZ.
    I believe that NZers may beat Canadians in the inferiority complex contest.

  125. In Taiwan back in 1983 I met a NZer who asked me to identify his accent. It was a game he played to see how far down the ladder people would go. NZ according to him people (Americans) would guess Canadian, Australian, various odd British dialects, and South African, and then give up before even guessing NZ.
    I believe that NZers may beat Canadians in the inferiority complex contest.

  126. So, who did the other 54% vote for?
    Results available here. Others include Peter Jackson, who (along with American Rob Tapert) gave the USA at least a chance of hearing what a NZer sounds like.

  127. Heaven knows why he wanted to put the boot in with Language, though. I suppose he’s trying to generate some interest for his book.
    Kind of odd. If you listen to the longer NPR interview Mr. Garvey’s links to on his blog’s sidebar, he doesn’t really claim to be a grammar expert. It sounds like the book is more of a “the making of” historical sort of thing, although he makes no secret of his fondness for the book. But the purpose of his blog piece seems to be to find fault with the writers in the NYT blog who don’t like S&W. Four of the five writers, at least. The fifth one, Mignon Fogarty, didn’t get mentioned at all. Maybe he’s following his own advice from the interview not to make his essay “more verbose (sic) than it needs to be”. Tee, hee.
    And this Stephen Dodson person he refers to as “a blogger”, not an editor, as the NYT calls him, while Mr. Garvey’s own blog profile does not mention his blogging but refers to him as “an editor”. A bit dismissive, that.

  128. Yes, all in all, I’m comfortable putting him under the “jerk” classification.

  129. Greatest Living New Zealander.
    None of the people on that list were possible winners — at least I had never heard of any of them. There were only 12,000 voters, about the same number that read Language Hat every day. Therefore we’ll start again. Vote for the top three, in order.
    In addition to the above mentioned Lucy Hockings (who gets my vote) and Peter Jackson, the following could all have been entered:
    Fleur Adcock - poet
    Peter Arnett – TV journalist
    Jane Campion – directed The Piano
    Russell Crowe – actor
    Richard Curtiss – screenwriter
    Anita McNaught – another BBC newsreader
    A J Hackett – invented/pioneer of Bungy jumping
    Courtney Love – kind of, she lived there as a child
    Dame Kiri Te Kanawa – opera star
    Paris Hilton – no, not really
    These people are all on the list because I’ve heard of them, which seems like a reasonable criterion.

  130. It’s obviously between Courtney and Dame Kiri. Probably there should be a sing-off.

  131. It’s obviously between Courtney and Dame Kiri. Probably there should be a sing-off.

  132. Looking at the candidates offered, I have to concede that Helen probably was the best choice. Almost no Kiwi wishes to claim Russell Crowe as “one of ours” – we are quite happy to pass the blame for him to Australia.

  133. I’d like a sing-off between A J Hackett and Lucy Hockings.

  134. I believe that NZers may beat Canadians in the inferiority complex contest.
    Do you wonder why, if even a 500-page work on varieties of English around the world can completely omit any mention of a country that has at least the 5th-largest population of monolingual English speakers? To quote a line from the “Flight of the Conchords” in which one of the NZ leads was about to marry an Australian – “you’re from a country that doesn’t even exist.” It was disappointing todiscover that David Crystal shares that view.

  135. Does it help to know that his Cambridge Encyclopedia of the English Language says:

    New Zealand English is the dark horse of World English regional dialectology. It has long been neglected, mentioned only in passing as part of a treatment of Australian English, or assumed by outsiders to be identical with it in all salient aspects. During the 1980s, however, this state of affairs began to change, with several studies focusing directly on the variety, and taking into account the unique features of the New Zealand sociolinguistic situation. The results of this interest suggest that there is a great deal that the study of New Zealand English can contribute to our understanding of linguistic variation and change, and – more excitingly – that some of its more distinctive developments have yet to take place.

  136. Does it help to know that his Cambridge Encyclopedia of the English Language says:
    New Zealand English is the dark horse of World English regional dialectology.

    To me, that makes the omission even stranger. His Cambridge Encyclopedia was published before Stories of English and yet in the latter work he (at least by implication through omission) treats NZE in exactly the way describes in the earlier work. Porangi Pom!

  137. Where’s Richard Hadlee in all this NZ stuff?

  138. Neither Richard Hadlee, his father or brothers, ‘his former wife Karen, who also played international cricket for New Zealand’, nor any other people with sports backgrounds could ever become Greatest Living New Zealander. I don’t know any sports people.

  139. Jay P.: I think it’s refreshing to be reminded once in a while that highly evolved language is one of the achievements that set humans apart as a species.
    I think it’s refreshing to be reminded of all the things we have in common with other species since, apart from language, they are so much better than we are at almost everything.

  140. bruessel says:

    OK, as it turns out the actor Sam Neill was born in Northern Ireland because he was an army brat, but he was certainly the first candidate for Greatest Living New Zealander who came to my mind (followed by Jane Campion).

  141. I didn’t know the New Zealand forces had invaded Ireland. What was it about, Lebensraum? I guess they hushed it up.

  142. Thanks all, for checking out my blog post. Stephen I wrote the line about “a mangy stuffed owl—something like that” mostly because you seemed so satisfied with your own thought, quoting yourself and all. My treatment of it was done not, as you suggest, from fear that your colorful prose might throw my own into shadow, but in a gesture that was meant to be a little dismissive. It probably fell short and was too snarky by half. I just edited it, restoring your quote to its original state. I also added “editor” to your epithet. I also removed the quotes from around “experts,” later in my piece, as one of your readers rightly called me out on that. Didn’t mean to launch a too-personal attack, but after spending a couple of years getting to know Will Strunk and E. B. White, I do tend to be made a little prickly by all the very personal, and unreservedly snarky, attacks I’ve seen lately against them and their book.

  143. I can understand that, Mark, and I appreciate your rewriting in response to criticism. We all have our icons that we hate to see attacked (I can criticize the Mets, but I don’t want to hear it from anybody else!), and defending people we care about is a noble impulse. But 1) you need to keep in mind that you’re prickly about it and calibrate your responses accordingly, and 2) nobody but Pullum (who likes going overboard and being provocative) was making any “unreservedly snarky attacks”; in fact, the whole point of my contribution was to explain that I had backed away from the snark represented by those “stuffed owl” quotes in response to the thoughtful remarks of Picky in the earlier thread, and was willing to accept that the book could be useful to people if only it weren’t presented as Holy Writ.
    In any event, thanks for being gracious about the sniping from around these parts!

  144. Thanks for the note, Stephen. If you think my published draft was prickly, you should’ve seen the one a friend talked me out of. You’re right, of course. I’m hopeful that my book will find its way to fans of EOS, and I just need to keep myself out of the fray. But I couldn’t let two weeks of the Pullumization of EOS go unremarked-upon. And I felt the piling on at NY TIMES needed a little balance. I feel better for having written it, and better for having made the late changes.
    Keep up the good work.
    Mark

  145. In the spirit of reconciliation and understanding on display in the last few posts here, I would add that I was delighted and surprised to receive a personal reply from Professor Crystal to an email sent enquiring about the absence of Zild from “The Stories of English”. He clearly is a gentleman and a scholar.

  146. So what was his excuse/explanation?

  147. Yeah, what did he say?
    If it’s open to other nationalities, maybe David Crystal is now on the path to becoming the Greatest LIving New Zealander.
    What if TGLNZ turns out to be an Australian?

  148. The relevant part of Professor Crystal’s reply:
    ” I can understand your puzzlement, but there is a simple explanation. I should first perhaps say that I don’t need a tutorial about the nature of New Zealand English! My Cambridge Encyclopedia of the English Language was widely applauded in NZ when it came out as being the first general English language book to give NZ English appropriate prominence, and all the points you make are covered there.
    When I was writing the maintext of the New Horizons chapter I had to make a selection. My focus was on the earliest development of the newly emerging varieties, so the criterion I used was to find examples of them from the 19th century. I spent ages trying to find an example from that period from NZ, but failed – and if you know of one, that would be helpful. So all I could do was simpy refer in passing to the NZ situation, on p. 439. There are a couple of other references to NZ in the book, but not index-worthy.”

  149. Well he sounds very conscientious and responsible. Funny he has ‘maintext’ as one word, I guess that must be a publishers’ thing.

  150. Yes, an admirable reply—thanks for passing it along.

Speak Your Mind

*