Monday, 13 July 2015

The King's English

(July 2015)

A style guide, basically. And as with any reasonably well constructed style guide it contain equal parts sage regard for the essential mutability of language and random prescriptivism, particularly on the subject of pronunciation.

Standard style guides are increasingly constructed by committee, which is entirely appropriate, what with the inherently social nature of language and all that. When one person takes it upon themselves to knock one out what you get is therefore not so much a guide to general usage, but a guide to that individual's idiolect. There are worse models to copy than Amis; for all his erudition and trenchancy he remains intensely readable:

The most famous and ancient of all misuses and not for that reason any less of a case of ignorant bullshit.

You always know where you stand, at least, though if you weren't a middle-aged white man from the South East of England that wasn't necessarily an enviable spot—entries on Womanese and the like have not, if we are being charitable, aged well. Though that in turn is a charity I suspect Amis would have rejected, as he clearly delighted in pushing buttons. If you're going to argue then you might as well argue about the important stuff.

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