The trouble with descriptivism—the idea that the grammarian's job is to describe the language, not to issue judgments about propriety—isn't that it's theoretically unsound. Rules really are just conventions. The trouble with descriptivism is that it's inhuman. People will always want to know the right way to say a thing. The secretary writing a letter or the corporate communications drone writing a press release doesn't care whether "impact" as a verb is "generally accepted," as modern usage manuals put it; he wants to know if using "impact" as a verb will make him sound stupid.
Friday, November 25, 2011
... Book Review: The Language Wars - WSJ.co. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)