Tag Archives: Language Change Index

Visiting Bryan Garner’s “Language Change Index” for Grammar Rules

Bill, the dog, critiques

When in doubt, I ask Bill.

Lurking around on an NCTE forum for English teachers, I learned about Bryan A. Garner’s Language Change Index and thought it nicely complemented some thoughts I’ve posted on this blog about grammar and usage. An interview and a critique discuss his efforts to do more formally what I did informally in ranking usage practices by how widely they’re likely to actually be noticed (see “split infinitive”) by the learned folks aspiring authors need to impress. What emerges for me, based on the examples in these articles, is how idiosyncratic grammar prescriptives can be. BTW, “hopefully” is now a Stage 5, not, in my view, because it ever was an “error,” but because it has been recognized as a perfectly good sentence modifier along the lines of “unfortunately” or Garner’s example of a “correct” sentence modifier, “regrettably.” No identifiable subject has to “hope” any more than an identifiable subject has to “regret.” So there.

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