Most of the pedagogical questions related
to English usage are not among my major interests. I have enough headaches
from wrestling with the questions of how to teach sentence structure. The
two areas do, however, overlap and questions of what to do about usage
problems sometimes arise. For anyone who is interested, I compare syntax
to the human skeleton; usage, to our clothing. We are, for better or worse,
judged for both. To a large extent, I agree with the opinions of David
Foster Wallace (See below.)
Fowler, H. W. A Dictionary of Modern English Usage. Oxford University Press. 1926. Rev. by Sir Ernest Gowers, 1965. 725 pp.
Gilman, E. W. ed. Webster's Dictionary of English Usage. Merriam-Webster Inc., 1989. 978 pp.
Gove, Philip, ed., Webster's Third New International Dictionary of the English Language. G. & C. Merriam Company, 1961. 2,662 pp.
Partridge, Etric. Usage and Abusage: A Guide to Good English. Hamish Hamilton, 1957. 392 pp.
When Brock Haussamen brought this essay to the attention of the members of the ATEG list, I went to the library and got a copy, mainly out of a sense of duty. When I found that it is twenty pages of small print, I told myself I was never going to read it. I expected, especially from the first page, a holier-than-thou, snooty condemnation of those of us who are not particularly concerned with the nicities of "proper English." Wallace himself notes that he is a "snoot," but he is, in addition to being witty and self-deprecating, a very level-headed snoot. After two hours and five minutes of reading (I log my time.), I wished that the essay was longer.
This border presents
[for educational use only]