The day after
One day past, the exhilaration of National Grammar Day has yet to fade. The cheers of the crowds lining the streets at the parade still echo in one’s ears. It was a swirl of events, the hourly cannon fire salute from the Citadel, the Te Deum sung at the Cathedral, the torchlight procession and laying of a wreath at the Cenotaph of the Unknown Copy Editor*, the fireworks display, the Semicolon Ball at the Ducal Palace, the governor’s generous clemency in releasing the detainees from the stockade at midnight. A glorious day.
Oh, all right, it was a stunt. Though the letter from President Bush was not. **
But in some ways a fruitful stunt. It smoked out some of the mossback prescriptivists so that their excesses could be exposed to light and air. It gave the moderate prescriptivists an opportunity to illustrate what reasonable guidelines for usage are — while exploring the areas in which reasonable people differ on grammar and usage. It gave me a chance to chat with Martha Brockenbrough of the Society for the Promotion of Good Grammar on Dan Rodricks’ radio show. It even yielded an olive branch from Language Log.
I was delighted to receive a message of fraternal greetings from Geoffrey K. Pullum, who, even though he can in no way countenance the that/which distinction I advocate, explains that he really, truly appreciates copy editors and does not hate their guts. And I, in equally fraternal regard, shrug off his regrettable past “copy-editing moron” reference; perhaps, if I’m ever able to book passage to Edinburgh, Professor Pullum and I could repair to a pub for a few glasses of single malt and a lively exchange on language. That would be a grammar day to remember.
*Hell, pretty much all copy editors are unknown.
**Click on the Society for the Promotion of Good Grammar link at the National Grammar Day Web site.