April 3, 2008

When Linguists Beat Their Heads Against Walls

As long-time Rhetorica readers know, I admire the “grammar jockeys” at Language Log. I had just enough linguistic training in grad school (while working on a Ph.D. in rhetoric) to be dangerous to myself and others when I attempt to do what they do so well. Read this. It gets at, better than I am able, something I’ve written about many times in this very space.

The money quote for me:

But this last step is important because it leads to the humane conclusion that users of the language are all concerned, tacitly of course, with communicative values; people who use non-standard variants are not just sloppy, lazy, cognitively impaired simpletons who have, moreover, perversely rejected the excellences of the standard.

UPDATE: While you’re at it, read this too. Has nothing to do with the topic at hand. I just like what he has to say.

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