Cage fight

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Yesterday's offerings on the New York Times site include what seems to have been designed as a descriptivist vs. prescriptivist cage fight. They picked Robert Lane Greene of The Economist for their descriptivist and Bryan Garner as their prescriptivist, but unfortunately the two men soon start falling into an unseemly state of agreement. The last thing you want in a cage fight is two hulking battlers shaking hands and each expressing the feeling that the other is a good-hearted and well-meaning fellow. "Maybe we're getting somewhere," says Garner at the beginning of his second piece in the debate, pleased that some common ground is emerging: "…you and I are getting closer together." Oh, no! No blood?

To be serious, some interesting points are made; the whole exchange is worth reading. And 77 comments had already been posted by this morning (Friday 28 September); there were 138 by 14:51:59 EDT, and 239 by 11:34:10 EDT on September 29. I don't know whether they are all worth reading. One reads, in full, "Irregardless…". So clearly we are in for some humorous self-display and irrelevant voicing of random peeves. I won't be visiting. The Times well knows that raising the topic of English usage is almost as effective as putting on a cage fight to get a crowd forming round your door. The crowd is forming already.

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