Is there something to lose from an unnecessary rule?

Motivated Grammar

This blog was linked to a while ago in a Reddit discussion of uninterested and disinterested. (My opinion on them is that uninterested is restricted to the “unconcerned” meaning, while disinterested can mean either “unconcerned” or “impartial”, and that’s an opinion based on both historical and modern usage. In fact, despite the dire cries that people are causing the two words to smear together, it actually looks like the distinction between them is growing over time.)

The reason I bring this up again is that one of the Redditors was proposing that having a strong distinction could make sense, because:

“Some people draw a distinction between disinterested and uninterested. There is nothing to lose and perhaps subtlety to be gained by using that distinction yourself. Therefore observing the distinction should always be recommended.”

But I’ve already asked my question about this in the title: is there really nothing…

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Lazy grammar complaints

Will read this one later.

Motivated Grammar

I’ve re-read an old column by Tom Chivers, the Telegraph’s assistant comment editor (a job title I would not have thought existed), discussing a complaint that Noam Chomsky committed a linguistic error by using anticipate in place of expect.

The column was a rollercoaster for me, because my many interactions with honest-to-goodness prescriptivists has rendered me unable to detect well-crafted satires until it’s too late. I swallowed Chivers’s faux stance, clucking my tongue all the while, only to realize at the end, pulling into the station, that there was no real danger there at all. In fact, I felt pretty happy for having read it.

But I had committed myself to becoming miserable from reading something, and in the idiotic hopes of providing that misery, I proceeded to the comments. Why do I do this? Is it some misguided penance for imagined crimes? Well, whatever, here’s a comment:

“Thinking…

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Music on Monday: Heatmiser

Amen!

Que sera, Sarah

When it’s 70° on December 3rd, there can be no more appropriate holiday music selection than this one, from The Year Without a Santa Claus:

All I can think is that this unseasonably warm weather — which is set to continue for at least the next few days — has been sent to help me prepare for Christmas in Houston (and the side trip to Galveston that I hope we make for some beach time).

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“Can I?” & “May I?”: the historical perspective

Interesting… .

Motivated Grammar

If someone were to lend me a time machine and ask me to go back and figure out exactly what first set me down my road to dedicated descriptivism, I would first ask them if perhaps there wasn’t a better use for this marvelous contraption. But if they persisted, the coordinates I’d start with would be my elementary school days. I suspect it was some time around then that I first asked for permission to do something and was met with one of the archetypal prescriptions.

“Can I go to the bathroom?”, I surely must have asked, and just as surely a teacher must have answered, “I don’t know, can you?”

The irritation that I felt at this correction was so severe that even though I can’t remember when this happened, nor who did it to me, I still can call to mind the way it made me seethe. It…

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