You sit down with your coffee, log on at the terminal, pick up something by one of the Tribune’s top operators, and the first thing you see is this:
Oh, don’t be such a stickler about it! You know what he means! Right?
Over at You Don’t Say, John McIntyre is becoming concerned about the terms we use to describe ourselves, and he’s probably right that the p-word will make linguists nervous no matter how much we soften it with adjectives. But deep down, I know what I am, and I’m not ashamed: I’m a prescriptivist.
I don’t think it’s what we’re called that’s the real problem. It’s what we do. We intervene. We step in front of the data. We influence the corpus before it even becomes the corpus. Descriptivists are never going to be entirely comfortable about that.
But look at that sentence. It won’t do.
I’m a prescriptivist, and I’m going to change it.