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Our False Beliefs About Language For nearly a century, linguists have been struggling to unseat the accumulated dogma that “masquerades as common sense,” as the American linguist Leonard Bloomfield put it in 1933. That’s the challenge that faces every developing science, but linguistics seems to have had a harder time than most. People who readily accept the principles of modern economics, psychology and biology still cling to notions about language that are as antiquated as a belief in physi­ocracy or leeching.
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The ‘O’ Word We’d better address one textual issue up front, and without italics. This book opts for the iconic form: OK.

This newspaper’s style calls for the punctilious (and closest to the original) form: O.K.

My own strong preference is the form that looks most simply like a word, whose pronunciation is clear, and which doesn’t call for an apostrophe in extensions like “okayed” and “okays”:
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Grammar and Usage “It’s a damn poor mind that can think of only one way to spell a word.” — Andrew Jackson

Why are people so obsessed with grammar, and so offended by real or imagined lapses? They argue over split infinitives and sentences that end in prepositions, almost to the point of blows. (Winston Churchill was supposedly so exasperated by a speechwriter’s avoidance of prepositional endings that he erupted: “This is the sort of bloody nonsense up with which I will not put.” Note the use of the weaselly word “supposedly”: some sources say an anonymous British official, not Churchill, was the source of the famous remark.)
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English Grammer Guide

Pronoun Privilege

At some colleges students introduce themselves by name, followed by a string of preferred pronouns. But the ritual is discomfiting.

Read more: Pronoun Privilege


A Plea for Plain English in Financial Documents

Stop writing solely for lawyers and professional investors and start writing so that anyone with an interest will understand.

Read more: A Plea for Plain English in Financial Documents


Copy Edit This!

The Times’s standards editor, Philip B. Corbett, invites readers to correct grammatical errors in recently published Times stories.

Read more: Copy Edit This!


When Your Punctuation Says It All (!)

In the texting era, symbols may say more than the words around them (or, at least, we think they do).

Read more: When Your Punctuation Says It All (!)


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