Jan Freeman, blogger and columnist for the Boston Globe, is one of those people that I aspire to become. She addresses more or less the same issues as I do in this blog: pointing out when overzealous prescriptivists have overstepped the bounds of English grammar in their attempts to convert English into their own personal Byzantine wonderland. In fact, the main difference between us, I think, is that she does this with the conciseness, precision, and effectiveness that I can only dream of eventually mastering.
I was reminded of this because I had had two ideas bouncing around in my head for months, unable to figure out how to put them together into a coherent post. The first: it is bad to be obsessed with Omitting Needless Words. The second: prescriptivists make things up seemingly out of thin air. Thankfully, Jan took both of those ideas, wrote them up in the newspaper, and scored two direct hits against the prescriptivist ramparts. I highly recommend reading both columns and freeing yourself from the shackles of prescriptivism. (Well, really I recommend reading all of her columns, but I assume you have other things that need done today.)
And if you doubt the power Jan has in this world, it was her column, and not my post, about the “Some prescriptivists argue not should not conclude a sentence” claim that led to its being removed from Wikipedia. That’s right — she can get people to erase information from a website. Imagine what she could do to you if you were foolish enough to oppose her.