Usage Determines Meaning no. 15

by May 8, 2009Books, Humor0 comments

Sidney Landau, lexicographer, has a firm handle on one of my favorite near-inspired dictums, “Usage determines meaning.”

He devotes some space in his book Dictionaries to covering the history of English usage disputes. In the 18th century, grammar “errors” provoked moral outrage and an explosion of books offering corrections! I found this little anecdote about Goold Brown, author of The Grammar of English Grammars (!, 1851), quite amusing:

Brown cites innumerable examples of actual “incorrect” usages from Lowth’s and Murray’s grammars as well as from the great writers of English literature, such as Addison. From any rational view he would seem to have collected a vast body of evidence to refute his own argument, but to Goold Brown the usage of the greatest writers was of no account compared to his own peculiar appreciation of the logic underlying grammar. p.246

Read More 

Review: Small Preaching by Jonathan Pennington

Review: Small Preaching by Jonathan Pennington

Small Preaching: 25 Little Things You Can Do Now to Become a Better Preacher, by Jonathan Pennington (Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press, 2021). Very few pp.Great little title. Punchy and short. Genuinely full of wisdom. The three things that stood out to me most: The very...

Review: Eat This Book by Eugene Peterson

Review: Eat This Book by Eugene Peterson

Eat This Book: A Conversation in the Art of Spiritual Reading by Eugene H. PetersonMy rating: 5 of 5 starsI've said before that I'm an emotional reader. My five stars for this book represent my rapture at great prose and, more...

Review: The Rise and Triumph of the Modern Self

Review: The Rise and Triumph of the Modern Self

The Rise and Triumph of the Modern Self: Cultural Amnesia, Expressive Individualism, and the Road to Sexual Revolution by Carl R. Trueman.My rating: 5 of 5 stars I'm hoping to publish in a journal a more extensive review of this excellent—though long and at times...

Leave a comment.

0 Comments

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Usage Determines Texting « βλογάπη - [...] Prescriptive lexicographers have created a real snafu. [...]

Leave a Reply