It's National Grammar Day, a time to take stock of the current status of the English language, and possibly get into bitter fights.
I'm old school. I'm the kind of person who will only use "not only" if I intend to follow it with "but also." That's probably a convention that died the quiet death of a feverish sloth many years ago. But I know what's right, and sometimes it feels like I'm helping to hold the language together even as it drifts into chaos.
That's entropy, and plenty of people would tell me that's the wrong analogy. The language isn't leaching out its energy. It's gaining strength, they'd say.
The digital revolution has put a lot more people back at the keyboard. People write more and speak less and in so doing they innovate in ways we can easily track and discuss. I don't believe all that. I'm just telling you it's another way of seeing it.
- Peter Sokolowski is Editor-at-Large at Merriam-Webster. He blogs at Merriam-Webster Unabridged, appears in Ask the Editor videos at Merriam-Webster.com, and was named among TIME’s 140 Best Twitter Feeds of 2013.
- Mignon Fogarty is better known as the podcaster Grammar Girl and is the author of the New York Times bestseller, Grammar Girl’s Quick and Dirty Tips for Better Writing and The Grammar Devotional. She’s currently developing a card game called Peeve Wars.
- Joan Bines is the director of the Golden Ball Tavern Museum in Weston, MA and the author of "Words They Lived By: Colonial New England Speech, Then and Now”
- John Richards is the president of The Apostrophe Protection Society