Nick Cohen reviews for the Spectator Oliver Kamm’s new book Accidence Will Happen: The Non-Pedantic Guide to English Usage, whose title says it all. Quote unquote:
You may regret that disinterested can now mean uninterested as well as impartial, although if you make a fuss you will betray your ignorance that in the 17th century disinterested meant uninterested too. You may want to ban people from starting sentences with ‘hopefully’ — although no pedant has explained why it is not also wrong to start sentences with ‘thankfully’ — but you will be fighting a losing battle against a living language, which is always changing. Your ‘rules’ will be no more than incoherent prejudices.
What I’m reading #124 quoted Arrant Pedantry having a crack at Grammarly. So here is Arrant Pedantry having a crack at Correctica, which claimed that “online grammar errors have increased by 148% in nine years”. It includes a detailed analysis of the stats, not necessarily to Correctica’s advantage. Quote unquote:
So in sum, the study is completely bogus, and it’s obviously nothing more than an attempt to sell yet another grammar-checking service. Is it important to check your writing for errors? Sure. Can Correctica help you do that? I have no idea. But I do know that this study doesn’t show an epidemic of grammar errors as it claims to.
Susie Boyt in the Financial Times offers the Henry James guide to parenting, inspired by his novel The Awkward Age. Quote unquote:
Parental anxiety is rife with good reason. We live in an age in which, when a teenage girl chats to a boy at a party, it is fairly normal for that young man to suggest the next day that she sends him a picture of herself and that picture is not meant to feature clothes. What is the best defence against that sort of carry-on? What would the Master have to say?
I have never seen anything like this before and, like Halley’s Comet, will almost certainly never see it again: an arts blog taking ecomomics seriously. The post is headed “Art People: Learn Economics, I Beseech You”. Good luck with that. Quote unquote:
Economics is a deep topic but the core concepts are within easy intellectual reach. If you can’t explain how prices are determined then you have no business complaining about neoliberalism.
Hugo Rifkind in Tatler advises posh people on how to swear. He is a Scot so knows about swearing. Quote unquote:
As every writer knows, a profanity written has a kick many times that of one merely said. The same is true of one said in an accent that ought to know better. If, say, Bob Geldof told you he’d got a fucking puncture, you’d only be thinking about his tyres. If the Duke of Edinburgh did, he’d sound so cross that you'd wonder if he’d had the driver shot. [. . .]
It’s all about deliberation. The words are important, so you need to know precisely what they mean. When David Cameron said the word ‘twat’ on the radio, he sounded foolish not because he had sworn, but because he clearly didn’t realise it meant vagina. You need to be on top of this stuff. ‘Arse’ isn’t swearing any more. Your arse is just your arse. ‘Shit’ remains a bit sweary, but has mainly become a perfectly routine term for either ‘not good’ or actual faeces. If you want to keep it properly rude, add the Celtic e and make it ‘shite’. ‘Shite’ remains a great word. ‘Fucked’ means broken, or otherwise damaged. That is all. Even if something is broken as a result of actual sex (a bed, say), this is mere coincidence; there are no such connotations.
A female friend of mine did once break a bed in this manner – while house-sitting, which was a bit embarrassing. But I digress.
What the musicians who performed at Woodstock got paid. Jimi Hendrix the most, obviously: $18,000. Melanie got as much as Santana ($750). The Incredible String Band ($2250) got nearly as much as the Grateful Dead ($2500) and heaps more than Joe Cocker ($1375), but all of them much less than Ten Years After (3250). Quote unquote:
Though these were the purported prices agreed upon by the artists’ agents and the show’s promoters, there is some speculation that a few of the artists were never paid in full.
I spent about 20 years playing in various rock bands and I find this very hard to believe. Snort.
So here are Sly and the Family Stone ($7000) at Woodstock with “Higher and Higher”: