Coming up: lecture in Seattle

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One week from tomorrow (Tuesday) night I give my Jesse and John Danz Lecture at the University of Washington in Seattle. And although the summary published on the registration page is entirely accurate, I would still conjecture that as many as half the people planning to attend will think that the scandal is people who write bad. They will assume that I will be dinging ordinary folks for writing (and speaking) ungrammatically. Little will they know what lies in store: that my target is the grammarians. It is the rule-givers and knuckle-rappers and nitpickers that I will be castigating for their ignorance of the content of the principles of English syntax.

Time will tell. Eight days from right now (9 days in the Pacific North West, actually: there's an 8-hour time difference and I'm blogging early on Edinburgh time) I'll be able to find out, by assessing the proportion of the faces in the audience that seem puzzled or shocked.

Language Log readers who can make it to Seattle for the event are urged to do so; it is always good to meet LL readers in person, and it would be so much better to have significant numbers of people in the room who hear the music and grasp the issues. What I dread is the sort of question session where the first questioner is "shocked" that in my lecture they heard me end a sentence with a preposition, and the second asks me if I really think it is right to abandon rules in an era of such lawlessness and moral depravity, and it all goes downhill from there…

[Add later: Seattle was fabulous, the audience was huge—around 800 people—and the questions were mostly intelligent. (One woman told me solemnly that Winston Churchill had once said "nonsense up with which I will not put", but I explained to her and the rest of the audience the savage new Language Log penalty for trotting out that old untrue factoid.) All in all, it was a marvelous trip. And the sun came out on the last day and I could see Mount Rainier, which not all visitors to Seattle have seen. —GKP]

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