On Those Who Don’t Know What They’re Talking About

I’d say the problem with people who want to impose their linguistic tastes on others . . . is that they are so bad at it . . . they actually don’t know how they do what they do, and they are clueless about the grammar of the language in which they do it, and they offer recommendations on how you should write that are unfollowed, unfollowable, or utterly insane. 9Geoffrey Pullum , Language Log)

What is the strange nature of linguistic subject matter that leads journalists, and writers of all sorts, to mouth off about it without a care, announcing random… falsehoods as fact? Metallurgical claims are treated as needing at least some kind of fact-checking with metallurgists: you can’t just assert that lead is highly brittle at room temperature or that vanadium explodes if put in contact with water. But linguistic claims are left to the same sort of uncontrolled mouthing-off as totally subjective opinions about food or fashion. (Geoffrey Pullum, Language Log)

If you want to impress small-minded educational snobs, then putting some time into the most intellectually trivial details of standard written English, the familiar grammatical and orthographic shibboleths, is a good investment. (Geoffrey Pullum, Language Log)

Laymen are generally lousy linguists: they do not know what questions to ask, they do not know how to look for answers to them and they are too ready to accept generalisations to which they could easily find counter examples. (Jame D McCawley)

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