December 21, 2006

Watch your grammar, comrade

Just in case you needed any further reason to hate grammarians, those bloodless stuffy old innumerate bores who don't know how to kiss, those grumpy old grammar cranks always nitpicking your whiches and thats, and lecturing seraphim on quantifier use:

It turns out that not only was [Stalin] an intellectual, he was a compulsive and professional editor who corrected any manuscript that crossed his desk for style and grammar as well as for ideology.

[In a review of Robert Service's Stalin: A Biography;
originally in The Moscow Times; reprinted in
The Globe and Mail (Toronto), May 5, 2005.]

Oh, dear. Mark up a few violations of arbitrary grammar rules; pick an arbitrary collection of dissidents to be sent to die in the forced labor camps; a good day's work... One more bad role model for professional grammarians. Will it be left entirely to Dan Brown (God bless him) to do something about giving specialists in language a better popular image than the average B-movie mad scientist?

[Thanks to Jila Ghomeshi for the reference.]

Posted by Geoffrey K. Pullum at December 21, 2006 12:38 PM