Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Rumor and Innuendo

Some of my favorite blogs are linguistics and language related. I just happened onto another great one, called Mr. Verb.

One thing that Mr. Verb said in a recent post was that our society suffers from a "profound anti-intellectualism." I could not agree more. Things that regularly pass as science and fact are actually rumor, innuendo, superstition, and tradition. My most frequent personal anecdotes illustrating this point involve Diet Coke and linguistics.

Well-meaning friends (you know who you are!) frequently advise me not to drink so much DC because it's carcinogenic. I say, cite your source--but they prefer to stick to the hard science of I-just-know-it-ology.

Well, one of my favorite bloggers, minor celebrity cartoonist Scott Adams (a fellow Diet Coke guzzler) recently posted a link to a study that indicated that there is, in fact, no link between one DC ingredient--aspartame--and cancer. (I tried to find the link, but he's such a prolific blogger that I gave up after a short, feckless search through his archives.)

Mr. Peevie also sent me a link to the National Cancer Institute that supports the same conclusion.

And as far as the English is concerned, some of my family and friends assume that because I love words and language, I also enjoin the alleged rules of English grammar and usage, in particular those which are really only myths and/or wishful thinking. The problem is that many amateur word lovers (the operative word here being "amateur") are language bullies: they want language to be pristine and unchanging so that they can prescribe rules and contemn people who break them. It's a self-esteem thing.

But, as Mr. Verb's descriptive catchphrase indicates, "Language changes. Deal with it. Revel in it."

I am not a linguist, nor do I play one on TV. (There's a pitch for the networks: Chicago Five-Oh: A buttoned-down linguistics professor solves crimes during office hours with her red pen and a penchant for descriptive phonetics! Dun dun dun!) I try not to snark too much about pronunciations, usages, spellings, and syntaxes that fall outside of the E. Peevie Style Guide.

(That being said, there are certainly usages making their way into standard English that do tend to grate like a rake on pavement. But that's a blog post for another time.)

Here are some other language and linguistics-related blogs that I enjoy:

The Language Log
Language Hat
Tenser, said the Tensor

[Update: This post has been edited to incorporate the truly thrilling word-as-link techno-frizzle. (I don't get out much. And I don't even know how to talk about whatever it is that you call this stuff, being techno-impaired. But you know what I mean. And I am indebted to Roger and Mr. Peevie. Thanks, guys.]


Roger Green said...

Are you saying that that blogger can't do the link as word thing or that you can't? If it's you, you can type the URL in the Compose mode, then replace the stuff between the brackets with the words you want.

E. Peevie said...

Thanks, Roger. I'm the one that's having trouble with the technology. How kind of you to try to help!

I'm not sure I completely understand your instructions, but I'll give it a try.