Guest columnist Evanthia O. Rosati at the Irrascible Professor has a funny column on the perils of being an English teacher out in society. She and I both agree – if you are so unfortunate as to be at a party with dip hanging from your mouth, there are more important issues then remembering if it’s “who” or “whom.”
As a linguist, I appreciate an English teacher who can remember that written grammar has it’s place, and it may not be at the mall (even if she is compelled to correct mall flyers). I also have to guiltily confess that linguists have an unfair advantage over the English literature professions.
Depending on our moods linguists can play EITHER the descriptive card or the prescriptive card. For instance, I play the descriptive card when I write “one criteria” instead of “one criterion”, but I can easily play the prescriptive card if an etymology is involved (no really, the word “administrate” is only a recent neologism…use the older “administer” instead).
If you are in a dispute with me, you will get it coming in going. It really isn’t fair – but I refuse to give up the advantage.