Hopefully no need to comment

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A number of people have written to ask me why I have made no public comment on the preposterous old fraud Nevile Gwynne and his highly publicized recent book Gwynne's Grammar.

Well, one reason is that a certain amount of collapse in the will to live had come over me when contemplating the sheer dopiness of Mr Gwynne's pontifications about grammar and his lack of any grasp of the subject (declaring that too much too young is incomprehensible does not make a retired accountant into a grammar expert). Another is that Mark Liberman covered the topic very nicely, with an unerring eye for syntactic reasoning, in a comment on the first Bad Grammar Award, ostentatiously given to the authors of a short letter criticizing the UK education minister, which was really just a strategy for getting the press to show some interest in Gwynne's Grammar. (The citations and evidence relating to the Bad Grammar Award have apparently never been published on the web; I have been unable to find even the original press release, let alone anything more detailed.) But I now have discovered a third reason for not offering detailed comments: there are at least two beautifully aimed non-credulous posts about Gwynne already available in the blogosphere (and the superior quality of the blogs over the newspapers here is really striking).

A blogger called Christine, in a post on No Wealth But Life, which went up the day before Mark published his post, has totally nailed it with a beautiful and perceptive analysis not just of the poverty of Gwynne's remarks about grammar but also of the political context, and the transparent manipulation involved in Tom Hodgkinson's very successful attempt to get UK newspapers to publicize the book by Gwynne that he has published.

And Barrie England, in a post on Caxton on May 6, likewise hits several nails on the head so hard that I don't think I could drive them in any deeper. Read both if you're a fan of the kind of analysis we do here on Language Log.

I heard Gwynne on a BBC Radio 4 program revealing that he thinks the most misused word in English is hopefully. That tells me that he hasn't paid any attention to informed commentary on English usage in roughly 50 years (see my comments here on hopefully). If he can show so little regard for his adopted subject, then perhaps I can be forgiven for not paying any attention to him for 50 years. I'll return to the topic in the year 2063, good health and basic will to live permitting.

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