An Editor Speaks

John McIntyre of the Baltimore Sun and the blog You Don’t Say recently made this comment on someone else’s Facebook page. It’s far too good not to disseminate more widely.

Descriptivists give empirical information about how people actually speak and write the language, which is what has always dictated grammar and usage. Informed prescriptivists pay attention to empirical information, and when, like me, they are editors, they make judgments based on that empirical information rather than on superstitions, shibboleths, and bogus rules, adjusting the register of usage to subject, occasion, publication, and audience. Uninformed prescriptivists waste people’s time, including their own.

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Filed under English Language, Language

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