NGD again

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It's March 4, or Opal Eleanor Armstrong Zwicky's birthday (now we are six) — and also National Grammar Day, which I've posted about in the past (in 2008 here, in 2009 here). Those of us who think of ourselves as grammarians — studying the syntax and morphology of languages and the accompanying facts of usage — tend to take a dim view of NGD, which has been framed as a festival of peeving and stern mocking of "incorrect" language.

For some views this year, see Dennis Baron here, Gabe Doyle here, and Neal Whitman here. Gabe and Neal go to some lengths to try to reclaim the occasion for some actual celebration of cool facts about English syntax and usage (plus the usual attempts at debunking persistent, and apparently ineradicable, myths about these matters).

I've grown deeply pessimistic about NGD as a vehicle for such reclamatory efforts. It seems to me that the day is especially unlikely to provide a receptive audience for what linguists have to say. Instead, I'll go on talking, every day, about [real] grammar and usage (with excursions into informal, conversational, dialectal, and frankly non-standard usages, plus explorations of innovative usages, plus investigations of actual mistakes of many different kinds).

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