Tag Archives: language change

Our changing language: When does wrong become right?

Iva Cheung has done up a nice, cogent, accurate summary of my presentation at the 2014 Editors’ Association of Canada conference. You can read it at www.ivacheung.com/2014/06/our-changing-language-when-does-wrong-become-right-james-harbeck-eac-conference-2014/.

The PowerPoint I used for the presentation can be downloaded from www.harbeck.ca/James/harbeck_wrong_right.pptx.

Streamkeepers of the language

A few months ago, a fellow editor, Paul Cipywnyk, told me and other members of the Editors’ Association of Canada about something perfectly awful that had happened. Continue reading

An Appreciation of English: A language in motion

This is the text of a presentation I made at the Editors’ Association of Canada Conference in Vancouver, June 10, 2006. It came with a handout, “A brief history of English,” which is available as a PDF. It traces the history and development of the English language and the nature and function of language change.
Continue reading

When an “error” isn’t

This is the text of a presentation I made to the Toronto branch of the Editors’ Association of Canada, Sept. 24, 2007. Certain parts were sung; you can guess which.

It ain’t necessarily so, no,
it ain’t necessarily so,
the things Strunk and White
want to tell you are right,
it just ain’t necessarily so.

Getting pissed off about grammatical errors is a favourite activity of a surprisingly large portion of English speakers. Continue reading

a convincing – or persuasive – argument?

An email sent around to members of the Editors’ Association of Canada enjoined members to “Convince [a fellow] editor to become a member of EAC,” which sparked a debate among members as to whether “convince” could – or should – be used there rather than “persuade.” It was pointed out that usage guides note that some people find “convince someone to do something” objectionable, but it was also pointed out that the distinction was unfamiliar even to some EAC members. This provoked a response that ignorance of the law is no defense. Which provoked a response from me on the nature of laws of language: Continue reading