What does proper English mean, and who gets to say what's right? Lynch has discovered every rule of English usage has a human history, and makes sense only in a historical context. They're more like rules of etiquette, made by fallible people and subject to change.
Vulgarities of speech: homo sapiens learns to speak -- The age in which I live: John Dryden revises his works -- Proper words in proper places: Jonathan Swift demands an academy -- Enchaining syllables, lashing the wind: Samuel Johnson lays down the law -- The art of using words properly: Joseph Priestley seeks genuine and established principles -- The people in these states: Noah Webster Americanizes the language -- Words, words, words: James Murray surveys anglicity -- The taste and fancy of the speller: George Bernard Shaw rewrites the ABCs -- Direct, simple, brief, vigorous, and lucid: Henry Watson Fowler shows the way -- Sabotage in Springfield: Philip Gove Stokes the flames -- Expletive deleted: George Carlin vexes the censors -- Grammar, and nonsense, and learning: we look to the future
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