I can be difficult. I form and hold strong opinions. Still, I’m never absolute — except about communication. I love the English language and bristle at its inadequacies, but I treasure its riches and become infuriated when common usage discards the distinctions between words, ignores etymology, or settles into acceptance of something that’s just plain wrong.

I know pretty well how grammar works  — my last actual boss, the inimitable J. Anthony Koester, at what was then Bellcore, named me his staff’s “nitpicker in chief ” — but have failed copyediting tests. I don’t know anyone who’s glad to have been required to diagram even one sentence. I don’t speak parts of speech. I look to punctuation as a toolbelt rather than a girdle. I do demand, of myself and anyone who wishes to communicate with me, precisely selected words arranged so they say what they’re meant to say. At the same time, I appreciate that language is a living thing, and I applaud its gamers and developers. I like a nice turn of phrase, especially if it plays on a cliche. I enjoy a pun that shows real appreciation of the language and its development.

This blog, and the tweets that will introduce and index it, give me a vent for yelling about abuse of the language. I will limit my criticisms to published offenses — electronic or hard-copy text that claims professional standing or the benefits of copyediting, or publicly broadcast audio/video presentations — by people who claim or should claim to know better. Don’t worry, I won’t be exposing typos in Facebook posts or ironies of conversation, at least not in full-fledged tweets and posts. I will look each day for the most egregious example I’ve heard and explain my problem with it here in the blog. I have a few saved up to get us rolling.

I will very much appreciate your opinions of my opinions, but if you disagree with me, I want to hear how your fix makes the meaning clearer than my fix, or how the error is really clearer than I thought it was. Please call me on my errors, but  I do not want to hear about rules or your grammar teachers. I grant final authority to no one style book. I want to hear about communication.

Find more about me and my writings at bkswrites.com


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