danust2012 at gmail.com
Sun Jul 7 01:46:52 UTC 2019
All or almost all books on linguistics I’ve read — popular level works by John McWhorter, Stephen Pinker, and David Crystal and more technical works (which one would expect to be descriptive) — have been descriptive. Even books I’ve read focusing on grammar that aim to improve language use — Richard Lanham’s _Style: An Anti-textbook_ and Virginia Tigre’s book come to mind — tend to go against the stereotype of a dry commandment style rules. I’m just wonder who Lane Greene is attacking here.
Of course, there’s nothing writing per se with prescriptive grammar, especially if the goal is, say, to better communicate or to signal one’s seriousness (or silliness), etc. But I’m guessing Greene is speaking out against the dryer Procrustean grammarians... But there’s already been two generations or more of folks speaking out against them — folks like McWhorter, for instance. What does Greene bring to the table that’s not covered by them?
In other news, I read _Wit's End: What Wit Is, How It Works, and Why We Need It_ by James Geary... So so. He gives some tantalizing details about the history and science of wit (on the latter I mean cognitive science and neurology stuff), but it’s fairly thin and doesn’t go deep enough. On the plus side, there are some great lines, stories, and jokes. Of course, I’m always down for a good pun.
Sample my Kindle books at:
> On Jul 6, 2019, at 5:44 PM, William Flynn Wallace <foozler83 at gmail.com> wrote:
> Talk on the Wild Side, by Lane Greene, an editor at The Economist.
> It's not your 'where do you put the comma' type of book, though it does spend some time on 'whom' that might surprise you (including advice like "Don't use 'whom' in a biker bar"). Though it would not work at all as a text book, I learned a great deal from it. Lots of good, common sense.
> There is a lot of trash-talking, names included. Sections on artificial intelligence, several pages on Trump, a theory of bilingual education and a lot more.
> I have not read anything like it, out of all the books I have read on language. It's mainly on the descriptive as opposed to prescriptive variety of linguistics, with lots of attacks on the latter, none polite.
> Don't miss it if you can!
> bill w
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