I had intended to post a translation of this excellent post (“о норме”: ‘on the norm’) over at Anatoly Vorobey’s blog, but my computer crashed when I was almost done, and I don’t have the heart to do it all over again, so I’ll just say that he’s explaining the poor correspondence between the alleged “rules” propagated by alleged purists and the actual rules of the language, and pointing out that the situation in Russia is still worse because there even the linguists largely subscribe to the shibboleths—a sad situation indeed. (And I note comments in the thread like one saying sure, there are educated people who use the “illiterate” verb ложить, just as there are educated people who consult horoscopes, and I sigh.)
Anyway, John Emerson in this thread kindly links to a post by Rohan Maitzen at The Valve, Make loudest possible proclamation of your Hat!, and I enjoyed it so much that as a substitute I will copy the passage from Carlyle found there:
Consider, for example, that great Hat seven-feet high, which now perambulates London Streets. . . The Hatter in the Strand of London, instead of making better felt-hats than another, mounts a huge lath-and-plaster Hat, seven-feet high, upon wheels; sends a man to drive it through the streets, hoping to be saved thereby. He has not attempted to make better hats, as he was appointed by the Universe to do, and as with this ingenuity of his he could very probably have done; but his whole industry is turned to persuade us that he has made such! He too knows that the Quack has become God. Laugh not at him, O reader; or do not laugh only. He has ceased to be comic; he is fast becoming tragic. To me this all-deafening blast of Puffery, of poor Falsehood grown necessitous, of poor Heart-Atheism fallen now into Enchanted Workhouses, sounds too surely like a Doom’s-blast! . . .
We take it for granted, the most rigorous of us, that all men who have made anything are expected and entitled to make the loudest possible proclamation of it, and call on a discerning public to reward them for it. Every man his own trumpeter; that is, to a really alarming extent, the accepted rule. Make loudest possible proclamation of your Hat: true proclamation if that will do; if that will not do, then false proclamation,—to such extent of falsity as will serve your purpose; as will not seem too false to be credible!
I have long since made proclamation of my Hats, and I assure you, ladies and gentlemen, that there are not finer hats in the realm!