For Language Log readers in London

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Language Log readers in London might be interested to know that I'm speaking to the Philological Society at 4:15 p.m. tomorrow (Friday, May 8). The meeting is in room 116 at the School of Oriental and African Studies, Thornhaugh Street, Russell Square, London WC1H OXG. The details are here.

It says that tea is served "for members and their guests" at 3:45, and then there will be a short Annual General Meeting to get some business out of the way before I give my paper. So I won't be speaking any earlier than 4:30, that's for sure. They way they put that bit about "members and their guests" does vaguely imply that you have to come in on the arm of a member. But that is probably motivated by fears that if the entire London readership of Language Log turned up they would run out of tea and scones. I really don't think they will throw anyone out. The Philological Society doesn't employ bouncers. It's not like a hot nightclub or a private wedding. They will let you in.

What I'm going to talk about is not very technical or philological: I'm going to explain how all the published dictionaries of English get the part-of-speech information wrong for the majority of the prepositions, the majority of the purported subordination conjunctions, and a whole slew of alleged adverbs. And I'm going to say that it's about time the dictionary makers shaped up. Two hundred years of laziness and inertia is enough. Get on it, lexicographers; fix these things. That's my general message. Which I will deliver gently and politely, of course. It's not like I'm going to call the major dictionary publishers shameless, ignorant, hypocritical, incompetent, authoritarian old weasels or something. I do know how to behave, and make nice. Honestly I do. How did these rumors about me being some sort of wild man get started, anyway?

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