…I am not a prescriptivist grammar Nazi and I don’t think the language is going to hell in a handbasket.
I had thought that this was fairly obvious, but I guess that some of the things I say may lead one to that conclusion if one does not have the context of my other opinions. I shall have to be careful to be clearer.
I mention this just because I had a debate with a fellow editor recently, my side of which I revised a little and posted here as “Streamkeepers of the language.” I’ve just found out that said fellow editor characterized that debate as “a lengthy debate with a fellow editor who feels very strongly that the English language is going to hell in a handbasket.”
Oh dear. The fact that I disagree with people who are trying to exert certain influences over certain usages, and that I wish to encourage others to resist those influences, does not mean that I think English is going to hell in a handbasket. Apparently this is less obvious than I thought it was.
Just to make sure anyone who is interested can know what my positions on language and language change are, here are some particularly germane posts:
For an in-depth exploration and appreciation of language change, check out “An Appreciation of English: A language in motion.”
For a detailed explanation of register, which is the question of different levels of English usage for different situations, go to “What flavour of English do you want?“
For good ammunition against people who complain that the language is going to hell and who want to impose prescriptivist rule, read “When an ‘error’ isn’t.”
There’s plenty more where that comes from, of course, including salvos against grammar Nazis at “A new way to be a complete loser,” “For a thousand years it’s good English, then it’s a comma splice?“, and “Fulford fulminates – pfui!” among others.
I hope that sets the record straight.