Rebecca Gowers has a delightful Guardian piece attacking the attackers of “horrible words,” a pastime always dear to my heart. Here’s her paragraph on prigs:
In Middlemarch, George Eliot has Fred Vincy make the splendid observation that “correct English is the slang of prigs”. The word slang started as a low term for low terms – an example of what it named. But by the 1870s, when Middlemarch was published, its meaning had widened so that it could now suggest the special vocabulary of a particular group. How the prigs managed to nab the labels “correct” and “proper” for their particular form of slang is another matter. But the fact is, they did. And it is in a spirit of dauntless righteousness that they continue to dismiss the English of lesser mortals as “uncivilised”, “vile”, “fatuous”, “abominable” and so on.
And here she is on transitivity:
Transitivity gets our senior advisers going. Heffer [Simon Heffer, author of Strictly English] declares that “one cannot” use collapse transitively (as in: “The search party that located the bodies […] simply collapsed the tent over them”, Telegraph). And Humphrys [John Humphrys, Beyond Words] confides that he is unmoved by the “sweet smile” of a waitress who says “Enjoy!” to him, wanting to ask her, “Don’t you know that ‘enjoy’ is a transitive not an intransitive verb?” A linguist would explain that, in this instance, there is an “unexpressed object”. The waitress herself, compelled to serve Humphrys, might like to reply that the OED cites intransitive uses of enjoy from 1380 on. Or she could just recite the example given from 1549: “Yet he neuer enioied after, but in conclusyon pitifully wasted his painful lyfe.”
Go get ’em, Rebecca! I myself will never write “miniscule” (it is for that very reason that I long ago adopted the donnish pronunciation “mi-NUS-cule,” so that I would never be tempted in the wrong direction), and I will always wince at singular “kudo,” but she is absolutely right to mock those who pretend that such usages are the downfall of English. Read, and enjoy, the whole thing. (Thanks, Paul!)