Apr 19, 2022 • 6M

BONUS: English Is Hard Enough Without Antiquated Distinctions

Why John isn't backing down on lay-lie equivalency.

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John McWhorter

John’s 150th episode, arguing we should abandon the distinction between “lie” and “lay,” is the most hotly debated in recent Lexicon Valley history.

“I actually do care about such distinctions,” wrote Mary-Charlotte D.

“Some think they can legislate the disappearance of invidious distinctions, but they’re leading people into a trap,” wrote a listener with the pseudonym XYZ. “Inability to use these words properly will be a mark of illiteracy for a long time, whatever opinion on the distinction one may hold.”

Perhaps the most succinct argument came from Lon C., who argued: “It is a point of personal discipline. Abandon the difference between lie and lay, and soon, civilization will collapse.”

To that, John says: Nonsense!

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