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Grammatical Gaffes: A Linguist Looks at Language Peeves

Evening Program

Thursday, October 18, 2018 - 6:45 p.m.
Code: 1M2986

Are you someone who winces at the word irregardless or the admonition to “Drive safe”? Do you find it hard to believe someone who tells you, “I was literally climbing the walls”? Do you wish everyone would use the Oxford comma in lists of three items? If so, this lively seminar on language is for you.

From her perspective as a historian of the English language, linguist Anne Curzan examines some of the most common peeves in grammar, including “between you and I,” the new(ish) verbs “to impact” and “to verse,” the pronoun “they” as a singular, the use of “that” for “who” in reference to people, dangling modifiers, and the use of “less” for “fewer.”

How long have speakers been doing this? Should we accept it in speech? In formal writing? When does a grammatical error stop being an error? Curzan explains how she handles these usage questions as a member of the American Heritage Dictionary Usage panel and as an academic writer and copy editor.

You’ll leave this seminar with a heightened awareness of grammatical changes afoot in the language and new online tools for exploring contested points in English usage.

Curzan is Arthur F. Thurnau Professor of English and Linguistics and Associate Dean for Humanities at the University of Michigan.

National Museum of Natural History
Baird Auditorium
10th St & Constitution Ave, NW
Metro: Federal Triangle