When it comes to language, a listener from Dallas wants to know, as a fellow Texan might put it, “who’s the decider”? Grant explains that nobody makes the rules about language, and everybody does. For those seeking professional guidance, a whole community of lexicographers, dictionaries, and style guides offers rules and provenance on vocabulary, grammar, and pronunciation. However, on a daily basis all the users of a language implicitly write the rules by choosing words and syntax that have semantic clarity for the people they’re trying to communicate with. You could go to a reference book, or you could say something to your neighbor, then judge by their reaction whether or not you made sense. This is part of a complete episode.
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- Space Cadet (episode #1514) 12/24/2018: We have books for language-lovers and recommendations for history buffs. • How did the word boondoggle come to denote a wasteful project? The answer involves... [more]
- Howling Fantods (episode #1513) 12/17/2018: Are there words and phrases that you misunderstood for an embarrassingly long time? Maybe you thought that money laundering literally meant washing drug-laced dollar bills,... [more]