Monday, July 24, 2006

The Wrath of the Anonymous Heckler

In response to a recent blog post about the Wrath of the Blogging Curmudgette, an anonymous heckler asserted:
"You DID incorrectly use the phrase 'begs the question'. While it is true that the usage you employed has fallen into the common parlance, it is the mark of a pseudo-intellectual, of someone who wishes to sound 'edumacated'."
At the risk of descending into an even more pointless confrontation, I am compelled to bow to the absurd and engage this anonymous heckler on the issue of prescriptive vs. normative linguistics. While I'm at it, I might point out (once again) that the Blogging Curmudgette originally asserted that I had made a *GRAMMATICAL* error when using the expression "begging the question." I did no such thing. Assuming, arguendo, that I made an error, it was in choosing a turn of phrase that had an ambiguous or controversial meaning. However, I respectfully submit that since my word choice was intentional and that no one actually misunderstood me, I did not make an error of any kind. Rather, I was posturing in much the same way that I posture when I use the word "aint" or end a sentence with a preposition, the latter rule being one that is a prescriptive rule of Latin that has no relevance to English grammar, prescriptive or normative.

Knowing and intentionally ignoring the rules of polite society does not make me a pseudo-intellectual. Rather, by using normative linguistic rules, I am able to provoke and vanquish petty anonymous pseudo-intellectuals who engage in irrational argumentum ad hominem attacks and irrational appeals to authority while concomitantly pretending to cite prescriptive linguistic rules. I might add that the anonymous pseudo-intellectual heckler in question has failed to follow accepted standards for American English when using quotation marks and periods. To wit, he or she twice ended a sentence with a quotation mark followed by a period, and it is standard editing practice to move a period at the end of a sentence inside a closing quotation mark. Those who break this rule usually do so out of ignorance, dehrby demonstratun' dehr toetall lakk of edumucation and cultcha!!! Had the anonymous heckler in question been using British English, I would have excused his failure to observe normative rules of American English as a purposeful choice, but that wasn't the case.

Now go, anonymous pseudo-intellectual heckler! And sin no more!


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