Coincidence? My girlfriend and I were just talking about non-native speakers, as in your story of that native Japanese speaker's use of 'own', and how we understand what they're trying to say even though it misses the mark. I tend to doubt that AI will ever be that flexible for a number of reasons not the least of which is that silicon circuits are not evolved neural circuits. With enough tweaking AI will seem to 'understand' but will not even be close to that five-year old.

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Sorry, "Billy & me are going..." sounds either ignorant, lazy, or defiant and wholly wrong. I would definitely think less of the person (assuming they were a native speaker). And as far as Obama's solecism, my guess is that he thought using I sounded more intelligent, and was hoist on his own petard

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On pronouns, isn't there an important distinction to be made between nominative "you and me" and objective "you and I"? While the former occurs naturally and is quickly acquired by children, doesn't the latter arise as an *overcorrection* to the prescriptive rule John describes? I would imagine this is evidenced by frequency of occurrence, with nominative "you and me" being far more regular. My intuition also tells me that objective "you and I" occurs more often in formal speech, as in the clip of the president, or when the speaker is otherwise carefully watching his words. This distribution only serves to reinforce the prescriptive rule, even though it is based on a fiction.

Does anyone know if there is data that supports this, or an historical/comparative analysis of the Germanic first person pronoun that sheds some light?

On adjectives, does anyone else have trouble arranging the modifiers (soy, non-fat, decaf, grande, etc.) in their Starbucks order? And does anyone else find the following syntax, as commonly found in Wikipedia entries, odd?

So-and-so is an American retired actor.

Who prefers "retired American actor"?

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Mar 22, 2023·edited Mar 22, 2023

People who claim that proper language usage--"prescriptivism"--isn't important and that anyone's manner of speaking and writing is just as good, just as validly correct and proper as anyone else's--since there are no real "rules" of speech and grammar--are lying to themselves and to others to whom they make such claims. Everyone is something of his or her own language "prescriptivist" or just doesn't care at all about how the language is used and, so, repeats whatever happens to be heard most often. The essential factor about usage is whether one speaks and writes haphazardly and ignorantly or from an informed and careful awareness.

If you just don't care, then why are you even listening to McWhorter's blog or reading and commenting here?


For further consideration:

Building a Bridge to the 18th Century

Professor Postman talked about his book, "Building a Bridge to the 18th Century: How the Past Can Improve Our Future", published by Knopf. (1999)


Interview with Neil Postman,

author of "Technopoly: The Surrender of Culture to Technology" (1992)


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Who did it? (It was)) Me.

To this day, I diagram sentences in my


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