I’m a scientist and writer turned editor and swivel-chair linguist. Sentence first is my blog about the English language: its usage, grammar, styles, literature, history, and quirks. There will also be stories, photos, and miscellany. I live in the west of Ireland, but thanks to modern technology you can read my blog (almost) anywhere. Its title is from a line spoken by the Queen in Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll: “Sentence first — verdict afterwards.”
I am interested in how people communicate. Words are powerful tools and deserve careful use, but language usage changes constantly. For formal writing and editing I like the plain style, and I am contrarily fascinated by gobbledegook. But because I have had love affairs with various kinds of writing, from science writing and travel writing to fiction and poetry, I am interested in all styles and in the countless ways we express our ideas.
He is clearly a man after my own heart (I am always glad to meet fellow descriptivists, but when they are also professional editors it brings an extra burst of joy), and I particularly commend to your attention his latest post, on snuck as the past tense of sneak. He smacks around a hissy fit thrown by someone at some website called The Awl over the Paris Review’s use of the form (which in a comment to Stan’s post I called “a wonderful word, short, snappy, and vivid”) and provides a detailed account of its history and increasing acceptance, ending with the admirably concise “In conclusion, then, The Awl and Jennifer Garner were wrong, and the Paris Review and Conan O’Brien were right.” (Via Mark Liberman at the Log.)