Boring preposition jokes: new termination policy

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Every time a post or comment on Language Log mentions, in any context, the prescriptive disapproval of preposition stranding (where a preposition is separated from its logically associated complement, as in What are you looking at?), e.g. in this post, we get commenters (who, incidentally, seem never to have read the site before) tussling with each other to be the first to inscribe two routinized types of comment.

One type says "I think a preposition is a fine thing to end a sentence with!", or words very much to that effect (unaware that instances of this lame "look-I'm-violating-the-rule" joke have been going on since at least the 1700s). The other type says, "This is nonsense up with which I shall not put!" (invariably thinking that they are quoting Sir Winston Churchill, though Ben Zimmer definitively refuted that misattribution years ago in a post that Mark and I subsequently included in our book, and it is enormously annoying to us that still no one is aware of Ben's discovery).

Unable to bear any longer the tedious work of seeking out all the instances of these two comment types so I can delete them, I have decided that from now on I will hunt down the relevant commenters and kill them.

I realize that it is unusual for a popular science blog to launch upon a policy of killing its own readers. That is why I thought an explicit warning should go up on the site first. This is that warning.

From now on, if you are going to post either of the two sorts of comments I have just described, please supply your actual name and residential address so I or Language Log security staffpersons Luca and Enzo can track you down.

I appreciate that there may be some legal issues with this policy, and some believe that death is too harsh a punishment for Language Log writers to be handing out without a full inquiry into whether the person was over the age of 12, whether they were drunk at the time of commenting, and so on.

But the "let-everyone-have-their-say" softies who criticize my policy have no idea just how many boring self-satisfied twits have posted almost exactly the same thing over and over again down the years. Yes, death is a severe sanction. But I think people should look at things from my point of view. It is really irritating.

Keep in mind also that both kinds of commenter think that they are being enormously clever and witty and original. This is frightening: remember, these morons are out there somewhere, ready to get seated next to you at a dinner party or on a plane and bore you senseless. Under my new policy this danger will steadily decrease.

Anyway, I am not going to open up a forum on my policy here. It is over and done with [yes, I know, that's a stranded preposition, but don't even think about a joke comment!]; I have decided, and that is that.

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