Had a brief argument with my friend last night about whether Fark or Reddit is better, and what do you know... this morning, Language Log happens to prove my point:
Geoffrey Pullum's article about The Elements of Style, like any other piece of prescriptive grammar advice, being a wad of fail.
Fark's response according to Pullum (original thread of fail)
tl;dr -- only losers read Fark.
Besides, what the fark (<_<) style="font-weight: bold;">
Since people asked, here's a bit on why linguists tend to hate/ignore/get rather irritated by writers of prescriptive grammatical advice. Since I seem to write better comments at 5am than blog posts at high noon, for whatever reason, I'll just repost my comment here.
Prescriptive grammar has several issues:
a) to linguists it tends to be of little interests as it does not reflect the innate tendencies of language speakers, which is what the study of language mainly focuses on. Prescriptive grammar is largely ceremonial.
b) English has a particularly bad case of prescriptive grammar being based on the grammar of some [mildly] distant language, eg. Latin. Take, for example, the law against split infinitives. The only reason it exists is that in Latin, it is impossible to ever split one due to it being comprised of a single morpheme. No reason to be so against it in English! Often, it's less awkward to simply ignore such relics of the medieval days of Latin scholarship.
Prescriptive grammar (and to some extent, prescriptive style) isn't particularly productive in helping people write better. Even linguistics background can get in the way sometimes -- I've encountered several linguists who...erm, don't quite put it into practice very well <_< style="font-style: italic;">The Language Instinct. (Great book, btw, highly recommend reading it!)
Prescriptive grammar does play a fairly important role, however: it prevents languages from dissipating into thousands of tiny dialects by setting up an arbitrary standard dialect one must aspire to. Otherwise, linguistic speciation likes to happen at an astounding rate, and 'in nature', languages tend to be rather small and ephemeral entities. They are very much like bacteria, in fact! Loanwords (plasmids, if you will) are exchanged on a regular basis; even grammatical structures can be borrowed from the neighbour (LGT, if you will?).
And they can 'conjugate' too, and create offspring via creolisation -- a fascinating phenomenon where multiple unrelated languages are mixed into what is called a pidgin, and the children growing up listening to this artificial language modify it to conform to natural linguistic laws -- regular grammar, complex sentence structure, etc. I don't even think there is a strong equivalent to that among biological organisms!
Does expression of the toxA operon depend on ToxT as well as ToxA?
1 day ago in RRResearch