Wednesday, 4 August 2010

'Ottawa is the capital of Canada'

I enjoy a bit of grammatical pedantry probably more than the next person - though I make no claims to be a paragon. Someone who does is Simon Heffer, who presumably in his role as Associate Editor of the Telegraph took it upon himself to correct his colleagues en masse via email (and not just about grammar as the title of this post indicates).

And there's nothing wrong with that - someone has to maintain standards or they'd just go and slip, wouldn't they? But the dangers of such a detailed, not to say exhaustive, approach is you can all too often be hoist with your own petard.

A few quibbles:
Homogenous and homogeneous are not interchangeable and their respective meanings should be studied in the dictionary.

My dictionary tells me they're the same word, spelt differently.
Under age, like under way, should be written as two words.

Except when it's used adjectivally when it should be hyphenated, surely?
This will never be by splitting the infinitive...

Isn't the standard guidance (from K Amis and others) that one can split the infinitive if to do otherwise would sound unnatural or barbarous?

Anyway, I invite your opinions (and pot-shots).

5 comments:

malty said...

I'm a'gonna teach you you're a'fixin to's

You're a'fixin to, He's a'fixin to, She's a' fixin to, we're a'fixin to.
Here endeth the first lesson.

Gaw said...

Malty, I'm grateful for your style guidance but unfortunately I have no idea what it is. Will your implied further lessons clarify?

malty said...

English, as she is taught in Tucson Arizona.

Anonymous said...

The English language does seem to pleasingly abound with traps for the would-be pedant. The number of times I've heard someone correct me on my pronOUNCiation, for instance.

P.S. I hate to say (though of course I don't) that you'd better knock that "s" off "dangers" in the sentence that mentions being hoist with your own petard.

Gaw said...

Anon: A hit! I humbly stand corrected. Pretty much guaranteed wasn't it?