An education in linguistics seems very beneficial. I’ve always like the term “language arts.” Guidelines for grammar, and other aspects of the English language, are necessary, especially for copy editors. We can’t all go around making up the rules as we go along! However, the flexibility of these guidelines are also a must. English is, as James pointed out, a crazy language with a lot of turns and twists. Grammar Girl, I think you’ve tried your best to answer all of English’s idiosyncrasies — it’s just not meant to be!
One of the problems that I and other linguistically trained, open-minded writers run up against in building an audience is that people really seem to want someone to just tell them “Do this and don’t do that.” And they want nice, simple explanations. So they turn to people like Strunk and White, Lynne Truss, and Mignon Fogarty – the Grammar Girl* – who give them nice, reasonably simple answers and guidelines to live by.
Folks, if you want nice and simple, speak Esperanto. English is fun precisely because it’s, not to put too fine a point on it, crazy. English is not like one of those old ’70s video games with one level of play. English has more variations and levels of play, more nuances and negotiations, more little subtleties and twists and turns, than any computer game anyone’s ever devised. By orders of magnitude.
Yes, there is a…
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