November 04, 2006

Grammar on the gay beat

Genre, a lifestyle magazine for gay men, has an advertising section every month with interviews of "Genre men", one from each of several cities.  Questions about favorites: gym, bar, restaurant, retailer, place to hang.  (Picture of gay male life: we work out, go to gay bars, like to eat and shop and hang with other gay men, cruising them.)  Other more specific questions, some silly ("If you were a cocktail, what would you be?" and "Who is the chick you'd switch for?"), some serious ("When/How did you come out?" and "What are you afraid of?").

New York City is represented in the November issue (p. 71) by Arnie Plotnick, a 46-year-old cat veterinarian who's inclined to smart-aleck answers:

First thing you do in the morning?

My boyfriend.

And then there's the question:

If you could go back in time to any year, what year would you go to?

Plotnick snaps back:

I'd go back to a time when people didn't end sentences with a preposition.

Ah, that prescriptive fiction Dryden's Rule, a.k.a. No Stranded Prepositions.  Particularly ridiculous here, since the fronted version of the interviewer's question is stunningly awkward:

If you could go back in time to any year, to what year would you go?

Whether by intention or accident, the Genre editors get their revenge by following the stranded-preposition exchange with this one:

How important are politics to you?  Be honest.

Very important.  We have to do everything we can to stop the radical right-wing bigots from destroying our country and everything it stands for.

There you have it: stranded prepositions AND a prejudice against them.  They are everywhere.

(In case you're curious, the answers to the other questions above are, in order: New York Sports Club, Gym Bar, RUB (Righteous Urban Barbecue), Whole Foods, and "on the grass by the pier on Christopher Street"; Absolut Peach and Tonic; Bjork "or maybe J.K. Rowling"; "I didn't really come out of the closet" because "the entire house kind of fell down around me instead"; and gay Republicans.)

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Posted by Arnold Zwicky at November 4, 2006 11:57 AM