Doge: such grammar. Very rules. Most linguistics. Wow

You know an internet meme has pretty much breathed its last when the Today programme brings in someone to talk about it and explain why it’s funny, while the presenter patronises them and pronounces the word “online” as though they’re picking it up with tweezers. Today, that happened to Doge. (In fairness Evan Davis, for…

‘I’m sorry, Mr Shakespeare, you’ve failed your Key Stage 2 grammar test’

Awful, embarrassing news about our education system from the grammar blogger David Crystal. (Spotter’s badge to the estimable John E McIntyre of The Baltimore Sun.) Asked to include an “appropriate” adverb in the phrase “The sun shone ________ in the sky”, children were marked down for using “bright” and “dutifully”. Crystal points out, rightly and…

Save our children from the Grammar Tribe

From Friday’s Daily Telegraph: Teaching standard English is important – but who decides what’s right and wrong? Their out of there minds. Two pizza’s for the price of one. Its all downhill from here. You’re turn. If you have a certain type of mind, those four sentences will have set your teeth on edge, and…

Michael Gove doesn’t know what the passive voice is

The Education Secretary, Michael Gove, has sent a memo around to his staff, telling them how to write letters. He clearly cares about language. This is an excellent thing. He wants his department to draft letters concisely, precisely, and politely. This is, of course, also an excellent thing. If that had been the extent of…

‘Do you see whom I see?’

We’re running a grammar quiz online at the moment, and it’s upsetting a lot of people who aren’t scoring as highly as they’d like. I’m grumpy about it as well because I got a couple of them wrong. But its very first question (which I actually got “right”, I feel I have to point out,…

If someone tells you singular ‘they’ is wrong, please do tell them to get stuffed

Allan Massie wrote a characteristically thoughtful piece about grammar yesterday, “Lost battles in the grammar wars“, talking about the need for careful use of language to avoid ambiguity. He refers to a somewhat wince-inducing infelicity in a Geoffrey Wheatcroft piece in The Guardian: “They have quite forgotten the redeeming virtues of the old aristocracy, from…

A lament for the death of the English language

Ah, the decline of the English language. It’s been well reported, for decades, that we are losing the nuance and delicacy of it: that our witless children, encouraged by their feckless parents and their tie-dye-wearing, there-are-no-right-or-wrong-answers hippie teachers, are debasing it. Soon – how soon, no one can say, but surely it cannot be many years…

Two cheers for Alan Duncan, grammar fascist

Alan Duncan, the Minister of State for International Development, has become perhaps the first Conservative minister in history to describe himself as a fascist, rather than waiting for someone on Twitter to do it for him. Specifically, “Lofty”, as he is known, has awarded himself the title of Grammar Fascist, in a memo to staff…

‘To go boldly’: why splitting infinitives is a sacred duty

The time has come, and I have a sad duty to perform. The language of Latin is dead, and we must bury it. So is Old English. “Hang on,” you might say. “Haven’t they been dead for a millennium or so? Shouldn’t any sensible undertaker have buried them some time ago?” Well, yes. They should…