Monday, September 26, 2011

Laying waste to language rules (The Australian, September)

There’s an amusing scene in George Eliot’s Middlemarch in which Mrs Garth, a retired schoolteacher, attempts to instruct her two youngest children in the finer points of English grammar while preparing a batch of pies in her kitchen. Defective syntax, Mrs Garth believes, is disadvantageous to one’s social status, a point she tries to impress on her son, who is proving rather less malleable than the pastry. Indeed, good grammar is, for her, as important as civilisation itself; as Eliot puts it, referring to the author of English Grammar (1795), a popular guide to usage at the time: ‘in a general wreck of society [she] would have tried to hold her “Lindley Murray” above the waves’. [More here.]


Marc said...

Hitchens, Hitchings, you love to Hitch it seems, Mr Bing.

Hope you are keeping well

Marc Weissenberger

Richard King said...

Hello old mate! Shoot me an email.