Pedantry rules!

People who actually care about grammar and language usage are frequently derided for being pedants, and indeed well-informed pedants are in shamefully short supply these days. But as this new column in The Times informs us, what some may see as pedantry others see as the use of standard English. Split infinitives are a matter of aesthetics more than grammar, as Oliver Kamm rightly points out, and the changing nature of the language is one of the delights of English, etc. Fine. But when people misuse the language and lose clarity, how is that a good thing? Of course it isn’t. “Disinterested” means impartial; “uninterested” means, well, not caring. And when did “a lot” of something become “alot”? I’ve seen this so many times, in essays and in the media, and perhaps it’s just carelessness, but it isn’t a word, ok? I’m not being unreasonable; the language belongs to everyone who speaks it, and is the most powerful tool we have, so why can’t people use it properly? I’d expect people in other professions – engineers, accountants, lawyers etc, to hold out for correct usage of the rules of their profession, so why is it not so acceptable to be a little bit stricter about language usage?

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