Nothing earthshaking in this Economist column by Robert Lane Greene, but it’s nice to see Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary of English Usage getting some love in such a respected venue. Thanks, Kattullus!


  1. Kári Tulinius says

    This is one of the best short summations of descriptivism:

    It’s a bit of a myth that linguists don’t believe in rules (although “condemnation”, it’s true, isn’t really their style). But they believe in rules that are obeyed by the vast majority of speakers, writing or speaking naturally, not those invented by random rulebook writers in the 1700s.

  2. jamessal says

    Mark Abley’s “Spoken Here” takes the reader on an enjoyable tour of threatened languages. It’s a bit wide-eyed at times, but it’s written by someone who just loves that there are so many ways to say things.
    Mark Abley, BTW, is the author of that rave review I mentioned in the TLS of Dying Words: Endangered languages and what they have to tell us by Nicholas Evans. Maybe that means more to some of you than it does to me.

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